Every year at the IEDC annual conference, a round table of site selectors and corporate real estate professionals discuss the hottest trends in economic development. This year, like others, they named workforce-related issues as prominent factors in site location decisions. But it’s not just workforce availability that drives business recruitment—talent attraction and placemaking have become focal points for communities and for businesses looking at communities.
The need to actively recruit skilled talent and make your community a place where young workers and families want to settle was one of the trends mentioned last week in Cleveland at IEDC’s largest gathering of the year.
“Talent attraction will remain a key driver in site location decisions, particularly millennial talent,” wrote Bill McMeekin of BusinessClimate in summarizing the important trends listed by the site location panel.
Why have talent attraction and placemaking become major focal points? Because the better equipped your community is to attract skilled talent, the better you’ll fare in attracting businesses. Young workers especially are focused on more than just job opportunities that a region offers; they want to know about the schools, amenities, crime rates, etc. in that region. This is something we discussed in our Talent Attraction Scorecard report, which ranked every county on how well it’s attracting and developing skilled talent.
Other key site location issues that the panel discussed were workforce diversity, workforce availability, the increase in manufacturing projects, and the changing nature of foreign direct investment. On workforce availability, McMeekin wrote:
Site location professionals advised economic development organizations to have as much specific data available on their workforce, not just the head count, but quantifying workers with certain skills, certifications for specific technologies and industries, and the overall availability and quality of workforce development and training programs. “Communities that solve the workforce challenge will win the battle for economic activity,” says Don Schjeldahl, a principal with DSG Advisors in Kent, OH.
Another key theme we picked up on at IEDC’s conference was inequality. How can regions encourage economic growth for all segments of their population? The Economic Development Research Partners program at IEDC tackled this topic in a new report on inclusive economic development. You can download the executive summary here.