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In today’s world, the focus of economic development efforts is not so much about attracting or retaining businesses. Rather, it’s a battle for talent.
A community may have the perfect site for a potential business to relocate to, but if you don't have the workforce to support the jobs the business is looking for, your community is no longer a viable candidate.
With low unemployment rates, regions and states around the country are facing a new economic development challenge—a surplus of jobs without skilled local talent to fill them. Adding to the challenge, technology has made finding a job easier than ever, meaning that talent can readily find job opportunities in any part of the U.S.
Economic development organizations (EDOs) are fighting to attract and retain talent in their communities. That’s why it’s more important than ever to understand how talent assesses new job opportunities and relocation decisions.
While our winter 2018 issue of chamber magazine will dig deeper into what the Chamber is doing in the areas of talent and workforce, this issue provides you with insight based on a survey conducted by Development Counsellors International (DCI), a firm specializing in economic development marketing and lead generation, of more than 1,000 working-age individuals across the country.
By providing insights on what people look for in new job opportunities and locations, we can all better market the region to grow and retain workforce to ensure sustainable growth.
For years, it’s always been thought that people, especially young professionals, choose a location first followed by the job. This survey blows that concept up. While location is important in relocation decisions, it’s far from the singular driver; jobs are the real driver. When evaluating a new career opportunity, the salary being offered is the most important factor people consider followed by work-life balance and company benefits. Location is an important factor but not a leading one.
To capture talent, companies need to clearly demonstrate the value they place on work-life balance. DCI also encourages companies and EDOs promote “take-home pay” rather than “average salary.” With “take-home pay,” an area’s cost of living is taken in to account.
When the topic of benefits is explored, respondents reported that while health insurance is the most important job-related benefit, paid time-off in the form of vacation and/or sick time ranked second followed by 401K/retirement plan.
And when it comes to location of a new job opportunity, the overall cost of living, housing costs, housing availability, health care and job opportunity for spouse/partner ranked in the top five in terms of influential criteria.
Respondents reported turning to their personal networks and friends when identifying new job opportunities, coming in 10% greater than the most frequently reported resource, company websites followed by LinkedIn. This result illustrates the use of existing residents and ambassadors to promote opportunities in their communities.
No matter how strong the reputation of a community, few people would move to a new location without visiting and experiencing the location firsthand. Word-of-mouth recommendations are also valuable when forming an impression of a community, further reinforcing that opinions from trusted sources such as friends and family are critical factors in location decisions.
With these insights into why and how talent makes their career and relocation decisions, we can more effectively compete for talent. The following strategies gleaned from the report findings can only positively impact our ability to attract and retain talent.
Most are searching for jobs first, not location. How employers market themselves on top sources is more important than how cities, chambers or economic development organizations market location independently.
While attractive job opportunities capture talent’s attention, travel forms their perceptions. Seventy-six percent of survey respondents cite firsthand experience as the top influencer when forming impressions of a community.
Family and friends are highly influential in communicating job opportunities. At the same time, local residents and their use of their personal and professional networks can serve as huge community ambassadors.
As the findings showed, salaries and cost of living are huge factors in people’s job search and relocation decisions. DCI recommends that if employers lack competitive industry salaries, market cost of living or housing costs instead and compare yourself to higher-cost competitors.
Important Factors When Considering a New Job Opportunity
2 Work-Life Balance
3 Company Benefits
4 Advancement Opportunities
5 Meaningful or Innovative Work
6 Location of New Opportunity
7 Company Culture
8 Colleagues & Co-Workers
9 Diversity Policies
10 Size of Company
I had the chance last week to attend the groundbreaking at Mill at Ironworks Plaza in downtown Mishawaka. The project is located just south of Beutter Park. Flaherty & Collins, an Indianapolis firm, is developing a 400,000-square-foot mixed-use building that will have commercial space on the first floor, 232 apartments and a parking garage.
Construction will commence in October and should be complete in two years. It is expected to employ about 400 people during construction.
The project will span two vacant city blocks that once housed the former Ball Band/Uniroyal factory. That 2 million-square-foot industrial complex that had employed close to 10,000 people was cleared in the late 1990s to make way for redevelopment opportunities on the site.
The groundbreaking on the Mill at Ironworks Plaza represents the largest development project in downtown Mishawaka since Liberty Mutual relocated a call center there in the early 1980s. This project represents a $45 million investment in downtown.
Mishawaka began planning for the redevelopment of the area shortly after Uniroyal filed bankruptcy in 1991. At the time, an urban, mixed-use, pedestrian friendly and architecturally significant redevelopment project was envisioned. In late 1997, the site was acquired and for the past 20 years the city has been working on executing on that plan.
After the demolition, the city moved forward with the development of Beutter and Kamm Island parks, as well as enhancements to Battell Park, Central Park and Lincoln Park, which are near the site.
In conjunction with those improvements, the Mishawaka Riverwalk was developed to connect each of those amenities. In recent years that 3-mile pedestrian loop has attracted thousands of visitors seeking a great place to run, walk, bike or just gather. Public art and other amenities have been added to enhance the experience along the riverfront.
Other development projects have taken shape on the fringes of the site. Mishawaka renovated the former Main Jr. High into apartments. The former Carnegie Library is currently being renovated for a restaurant use. The Townes at Kamm Island were developed and are currently being expanded. The River Rock Apartments opened earlier this year adjacent to the Riverwalk Condos that were developed in recent years.
Hospice built a new facility in the neighborhood. The former bank building at Main and Mishawaka Avenue was redeveloped into a co-working space called 101Co3. The former Tivoli block was redeveloped. The Mishawaka Food Pantry has done major renovations on the former Studebaker building on Lincoln Way, and several new users have located in the revitalized 100 Center. Many other projects are also being considered in or near downtown.
“Quality of place” are the buzzwords many communities are talking about these days as they recognize the need to build great spaces to help attract people. The Mishawaka project is a great case study for other communities to follow.
Projects like this take a lot of time, planning, patience and resources. The mayor and many city departments, the Redevelopment Commission, the City Council, the Park Board, the Mishawaka Business Association, the neighbors and countless others have all played critical roles.
From the acquisition, demolition, environmental cleanup through the development of the public spaces and the attraction of a developer, Mishawaka has executed on a long, well thought out, comprehensive plan for the redevelopment of a site. That plan has included some significant public investment that in the end has attracted some significant private investment. Watch for the biggest of those private investments to commence shortly.
Also published in the South Bend Tribune.
This morning, September 21, I joined officials from Mishawaka for the groundbreaking at Mill at Ironworks Plaza. The project is located south of Beutter Park in downtown Mishawaka. Indianapolis developer Flaherty & Collins is proposing a 400,000-square-foot mixed-use building that will have first floor commercial space and 232 apartments.
The project will span two vacant city blocks that once housed the former Ball Band/Uniroyal factory. The two million-square-foot industrial complex that once employed close to 10,000 people was cleared in the late 1990s to make way for redevelopment opportunities on the site. At the time, an urban, mixed-use, pedestrian friendly and architecturally significant redevelopment project was envisioned.
After the demolition, the City of Mishawaka moved forward with the development of Beutter and Kamm Island parks, as well as enhancements to Battell Park, Central Park and Lincoln Park, which are adjacent or near the site. The Mishawaka Riverwalk was developed to connect each of those amenities and in recent years, the three-mile pedestrian loop has attracted thousands of visitors seeking a great place to run, walk, bike or simply gather. Public art and other amenities have been added to enhance the experience along the Mishawaka riverfront.
The groundbreaking on the Mill at Ironworks Plaza represents the largest development project in downtown Mishawaka since Liberty Mutual relocated a call center there in the early 1980s. This project represents a $45 million investment in downtown, with financing coming from the developer, the City and the Regional Cities program. Mishawaka received one of the largest Regional Cities grants for this project.
This day and age, “quality of place” are the buzzwords every community is talking about as they have recognized the need to build great spaces to help attract people. The Mishawaka project is a great case study for other communities to follow. From the acquisition, demolition, environmental clean-up and progressing through the development of the public spaces to attracting a developer, Mishawaka has executed a long, well thought out, comprehensive plan for the redevelopment of a site that includes significant public investment that in the end has attracted some significant private investment.
Construction on the project is commencing now and is expected to employ 400 people. The project should be completed in two years.
The South Bend Region welcomed US Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao to the area on Tuesday, August 29 for two separate transportation related events.
First, Secretary Chao joined Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb, officials from the Indiana Toll Road Concession Company, Rieth-Riley Construction representatives, as well as many other dignitaries from the region to celebrate the completion of the I 80/90 PUSH Project, a $200 Million improvement project for the road.
Secretary Chao then joined Governor Holcomb, Senator Todd Young, 2nd District Congresswoman Representative Jackie Walorski, and 1st District Congressman Pete Visclosky and other local officials at the South Bend International Airport to discuss the South Shore Railroad Improvement project. Federal funds are being sought to complete the double-tracking of the South Shore, a top priority of State officials and local representatives in Lake, Porter, La Porte and St. Joseph Counties.
Secretary Chao was sworn in as Transportation Secretary this past January. She’s no stranger to Washington, having served under President George W. Bush as U.S. Secretary of Labor from 2001-2009. Secretary Chao’s distinguished career spans the public, private and non-profit sectors. Among the positions she has held include President and Chief Executive Officer of United Way of America; Director of the Peace Corps; Deputy Secretary at the U.S. Department of Transportation; Chairman of the Federal Maritime Commission; Deputy Maritime Administrator; and White House Fellow. Prior to her government service, she was Vice President of Syndications at BankAmerica Capital Markets Group and a banker with Citicorp in New York.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) is a cabinet-level agency of the federal government responsible for helping maintain and develop the nation's transportation systems and infrastructure. The Department has a budget of over $75 billion and employs more than 55,000 people. The Department has responsibilities related to Automobiles Aviation, Bicycles and Pedestrians, Public Transit, Pipelines and HazMat, Railroads, Research, Trucking and Motorcoaches, Waterways and Maritime, and Roadways and Bridges.
Both Governor Holcomb and Secretary Chao celebrated the completion of the I 80/90 Project ahead of schedule and under budget. They also touted the public-private partnership that led to the $200 million private investment in the roadway. No tax dollars were used in the reconstruction of the seventy miles of pavement and the improvement to fifty-three bridges along the roadway. In addition, each of the rest areas along the corridor are also being redeveloped to better serve customers in the corridor.
South Bend Regional Chamber President Jeff Rea commented “We are excited about the private investment that has been made in the I 80/90 corridor by the Indiana Toll Road Concession Company. The lease agreement done by the State of Indiana has not only helped fund the rest of the State’s infrastructure needs for the past decade, but also has served as a catalyst for efforts by a private company to make a significant investment in this important public asset. Long term, in addition to the roadway being safer, we know quality infrastructure is key to our economic development efforts and we believe these improvements will be critical to all of the counties along the corridor seeking to attract new jobs and capital investment.”
Secretary Chao got an opportunity to see first-hand the South Shore railroad and to hear from officials about how important it is to Indiana’s efforts to help attract talent to Northwest and North Central Indiana. To date, $145 million in State and Local funding has been secured for the South Shore double track project, another $145 million is being sought from the Federal Government to complete the project. In addition, the City of South Bend has plans to relocate the current South Shore Station from the east side of the South Bend International Airport to the west side of the airport, shaving additional time off of the South Bend to Chicago connection.
Rea commented “The South Shore Double Track project, the West Lake Corridor project, and the South Bend International Airport relocation project are all critical economic development efforts in Northwest and North Central Indiana. To better tie in to the third largest economy in the world will help in our efforts to attract new business opportunities and new people who may be attracted to all the big city offers while at the same time capitalizing on all Indiana has to offer. To date, the projects have garnered broad, bi-partisan support at the State and Local levels and we appreciate Secretary Chao’s interest in the project as the Federal Government also is a critical partner.”
U.S. SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION, ELAINE CHAO
photo: South Bend Regional Chamber
U.S. SENATOR, TODD YOUNG
photo: South Bend Regional Chamber
The busiest business in town might be the sign companies printing the “Help Wanted” or “Now Hiring” signs. It might be easier to tally the number of businesses that don’t have one of these signs than the number of businesses that do.
Generally, our economy is at full employment. Indiana’s unemployment rate currently stands at only 3.6%, Elkhart County at 2.6%, Marshall County at 2.9% and St. Joseph County 3.6%.
Employers say the ability to find good workers is holding back their plans for growth and making it difficult even to keep up with current orders. The State recognizes that if employers can’t find what they need locally, they’ll move jobs to other parts of the country and world with a better labor supply.
At the same time, there are many workers in our marketplace that are unemployed, underemployed or in a career they don’t think is going anywhere. The state of Indiana recently launched Next Level Jobs Initiatives, a new program aimed at moving adults in those positions into high-wage/high growth industries.
The State’s top brass including Governor Holcomb, Blair Milo, secretary of career connections and talent; Steve Braun, commissioner for workforce development; and Teresa Lubbers, commissioner for higher education, have been traveling the state touting the advantages of the new $20 million, two-year Next Level Jobs program. They made a stop in Elkhart earlier this month.
The new program has two basic parts. First, it will pay the tuition of an adult who wants to earn a career certificate in one of five high growth-high wage industries. Second, it will help offset the costs employers assume when they train new employees.
The Next Level Jobs program comes on the heels of the Next Level Roads program also unveiled by the Governor earlier this summer. The plan dedicates more than $30 billion over the next 20 years to improving the conditions of existing roads and bridges—both state and local, finishing major projects and building for the future. The Roads program aims to enhance Indiana’s position as a leader in freight and logistics.
If you have contemplated a career in health and life sciences, advanced manufacturing, business and IT services, the construction and building trades, or transportation-distribution-logistics, then the timing might be right for you? Those industries are the industries the State is targeting for the new program.
The career certificate programs will be available at Ivy Tech Community College and Vincennes University campuses throughout the state, including Ivy Tech’s South Bend and Elkhart campuses.
Do you have a business in one of those industries? Have you struggled to find the talent you need to grow and expand? Then the timing might be right for you as well as the program will assist your business in training those next generation workers.
Employers will be eligible for up to $2,500 per new employee to qualifying companies to train and retain new hires. The Department of Workforce Development will launch a pilot of the grant for 2018 and 2019, using $10 million in Career and Technical Education Innovation and Advancement Funds.
Response to the new program has been strong with more than 1,200 applicants received in the first few days after its launch. To learn more about the program, potential employees and interested employers can visit NextLevelJobs.org. Applicants will receive individualized contact from the Department of Workforce Development an eligible training provider within 48 hours.
Employers across the region are excited about what this new opportunity means for their business and recognize programs like this may just fill that need and be key catalyst for growth.