“You’ll always be the bridesmaid and never the bride.” – James Renzas, RSH Group
In her article entitled Prove It in the September 2014 Issue of the Professional Daym Magazine Susannah Sodergren drew a comparison between a candidate creating a resume to outline his or her skills in preparation for a job interview and the need for communities to follow the same steps to attract new business investment. Do communities need a resume? If so, how would a community create a resume? What information should be included?
According to Area Development Magazine’s 28th Annual Survey of Corporate Executives the number one and number three ranked site selection factors are Availability of Skilled Labor and Labor Costs. With this in mind, perhaps a good place for communities to start when creating a resume is to have an independent 3rd party workforce survey on hand that will certify the availability and detail the costs of their workforce.
When I speak with site selection consultants they often mention their frustration with communities that do not have an independent labor survey on hand. In fact,
, Principal of the RSH Group, shared valuable information for communities regarding the site selection process.
Jim indicated that baby boomers are retiring daily which is creating a loss of certain skills in the market place. Today’s market place is more competitive than ever, especially for workers with STEM skills, and communities must show companies that they have a skilled workforce and that companies are able to recruit and retain good quality employees in the area. According to Renzas, labor is the paramount factor in the site selection process for 90% of his projects. Renzas added that communities must be able to show that employees will be happy living in their area and that these employees possess the skills to compete at the highest level on a global scale.
Renzas indicated that when shopping for labor on behalf of his clients during the site selection process he usually conducts an initial paper study on the front end to eliminate sites and create a short list. At that point he contacts the economic development organizations in the short listed regions/communities to solicit a labor survey. Based on information he gleans from the labor surveys, he narrows the finalist list to three areas and schedules visits.
When ask about what types of information a labor report should include, Renzas added that census data is okay but it is often old; he needs primary data for the area that is fresh. Renzas added that he typically gives an ED organization a maximum of one week to respond to the initial questionnaire to demonstrate the availability of the labor force and build a case to be included on the short list. According to Renzas if a community does not have a labor survey on hand and the ED professional does not know his/her workforce inside and out he is not going to waste time making a visit. The community will be eliminated and may never even know that they were.
Renzas’ advice for communities is to get prepared and go out and find projects. He added that you can’t sit around and wait for companies to come to you; you have to go out and find them and make the case for your community. He added that the first question he gets from every client indicates concern for the future of the workforce; can we recruit and retain good quality people with the skills we need? Renzas says that this question is the number one thing that keeps corporate executives up at night. He also added if a community can prove that they can solve that issue then corporate executives will welcome them with open arms.
Perhaps Sodergren is on to something here. Based on what we’ve learned from Renzas, communities should begin by taking an inventory of their workforce assets. If communities are able to prove that they have an abundant workforce armed with the skills required in today’s global market place they may just be able to recruit more investment and help a few executives get some sleep along the way.
Corey J Mehaffy, CEO
Workforce Intelligence for Growing Business
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