By Jennifer Baker,
A few national trends critically shape the way that economic developers will frame recruitment discussions in 2020 and beyond.
Trend 1. Quality of life indicators wield increasing influence over companies’ relocation and expansion decisions.
Commercial real estate professionals and relocation consultants lead the industry at tapping into big data to inform companies’ relocation and expansion decisions. Through investment in developing and interpreting data analytics, these firms help client-companies navigate the most contemporary relocation trends—like what creature comforts their employees value, how far and by what modes of transportation employees are willing to commute and accessibility to relevant community amenities that resonate with their workforce.
Our phones, navigation systems, points of sale and nearly every click through the internet transmit information suggesting our behaviors and inclinations. Big data capture is not a “new” thing per se, but sophisticated manipulation of it and how it affects company relocation and expansion projects is constantly evolving. When sorted, filtered and extracted, vast collections of our data shed light on modern-day market trends and inform business strategy with more specificity than ever before.
Of course, not all data sets are interesting to all company executives. Traditional categories of analysis usually include land and utilities costs, transportation infrastructure, wage rates, access to quality education and healthcare systems. However, site selection analysis increasingly also includes very specific extracurricular quality of life considerations: Miles of bike trails? Number of yoga studios? Electric vehicle charging stations? Prevalence of civic organizations? Walkability score? “Cool” factor? Yes indeed. Some companies place a premium on coolness quotient!
But what matters the most? Where should we lend our energies to most competitively attract and retain company investments? Talent. National reporting as well as testimonials gathered from local companies underlines this assertion.
Trend 2. The No. 1 critical site selection factor nationwide is availability of skilled workers.
Talent is the top-ranked factor for four years running. It makes sense that without the ability to tap into, train and retain a skilled workforce, a company’s productivity and bottom line will suffer. But why is skilled workforce elevated as companies’ top consideration in recent years?
Population growth (or lack of) and the pace of technological advancement are two standout variables driving companies’ focus on access to workforce.
Even in the context of Clark County’s population—growing at a rate two times faster than the national average—the high demand for skilled workers contributes to a climate of ambitious salary negotiation from sometimes exigent candidates. Ask anyone responsible for recruiting key employees this year just how tight the marketplace is for skilled tradespeople, programmers, engineers and lawyers.
A tech company executive recently shared with me that, despite more favorable cash relocation incentives offered by one region, his firm expanded to an alternate location primarily because of its proximity to the most qualified labor pool. This is a common refrain.
Skilled labor, by definition, is often but not exclusively tied to higher education—rather a base of employees with specialized ability to carry out work considered to be more complex than standard job functions. Cultivating top talent across industries and retaining that talent in the region continues to be paramount to economic development efforts.
Trending with momentum in 2020: Top 5 ways you can affect the vitality of economic development efforts across Clark County
1) Stay true to the Clark County’s core values of continuous improvement, opportunities for future generations and collaborative partnerships.
2) Stick together as a county by celebrating the diverse characteristics of each of our cities and acknowledge that a variety of living environments makes us a stronger draw for employers. Share your pride in community and quality of life with others, through events, conversations and social media.
3) Continue to invest in community and infrastructure–whether by private funding, charitable contribution or public works. Share your investment of time to mentor a student, a sister business executive, a fellow entrepreneur or a future public servant.
4) Celebrate volunteerism and civic engagement. People across the country are hungry for sense of belonging and inclusive community. Gen X and Gen Y demonstrate the strongest propensity for volunteerism—so let’s make sure there are outlets to receive and channel this goodwill.
5) Create work experience opportunities for someone (re)entering the workforce, through job shadowing, paid internships and apprenticeship. Investing time and expertise supports the next generations of skilled workers, exposes younger people to an array of career possibilities and reinforces the career pipeline critical to the region’s economic growth.
Building increasing momentum behind these activities and intentions will help Clark County be its most competitive in attracting, growing and retaining a strong and innovative business presence.
CREDC works as the county’s designated associate development organization to expand the existing business base, support people and create place, as outlined in the Clark County Comprehensive Economic Development Plan.