How has E.D. changed?
Simply put, we’ve gone from an “if you build it, they will come” framework to one that is driven by talent. In essence, the process has reversed course from Recruit Company, Attract People, Enhance Quality of Life and Repeat to have Quality of Place, Recruit Talent, Attract Companies, and Repeat.

What are the drivers of this change?
While there are many, following are a few of the main drivers:

  • Talent is scarce. Virtually every community has a shortage of at least some groups of talent.
  • Data is abundant. People can readily research possible places to live. My hairdresser just moved to a warmer climate and was able to identify cities with good schools for her kids, night classes at the technical college for her husband, and an apartment complex that allowed dogs and fit within their budget.
  • People have choices about where they live and where they work (in that order) and they are taking the prerogative to make those choices.

How does this affect EDOs?

  • Build your economic development strategic plan to include talent strategies. Some of the best EDOs today are dedicating more than half of their resources to talent initiatives.
  • Consider creating a vision for how your region will be vibrant for the next generation and align all the stakeholders accordingly. We do this through placemaking, which we define as the convergence of urban planning, economic development, workforce development, community development and tourism, centered on a shared vision articulating your quality of place, not just your quality of life.
  • Transparency and authenticity are the new hallmarks in economic development marketing, as people and companies can get at the “real” information about your community and region while bypassing official sources. Everything about your marketing needs to take this into account, starting with whom you are targeting, the messaging you are using, and how you plan to reach them.

How does this affect companies looking to make relocation or expansion decisions?
Sorry, but unless you are Amazon, it means that you have to work smarter and differently to continue to have the output you need.

  • Competition for talent is moving from broad brush campaigns to finely-tuned tactical maneuvers. Assume that competitors are actively trying to recruit your best employees because they probably are via online tracking and social media. So, create a culture of employee engagement where employees choose to work.
  • When considering locations for new facilities, make sure that the current and expected future labor pool is thoroughly vetted, along with all the other fatal flaws. One of the key values of hiring a site selection consultant to advise you on locations is that site selectors are experts in assessing labor availability and productivity, which is one of the largest risks you will face.
  • Start thinking about your organization in terms of outputs, not just the number of employees. Automation will disrupt your operations, and not just on the manufacturing floor, but in the office, in the field, and everywhere in between.
  • Lastly, consider how your primary industry will be disrupted by technology. What kinds of people will you even need three, five or ten years down the road?

For more information on Ady Advantage and how we can help you anticipate the future and plan accordingly, feel free to give us a call or drop us an email. You can also review the services we provide to economic development organizations, manufacturers, and site selectors on our website and gain additional insight via our talent strategy focused slew of blogs.