Trending topics in the Economic Development industry today are the “Skills Gap” and the “Talent Gap,” where manufacturers are missing key skill sets today, and demographic trends point to a lack of warm bodies to fill jobs in the future.
Whether today’s gaps are a result of skill shortages (blame to be placed on the education system) or lack of sufficient wage incentives (blame to be placed on businesses), the core truth is that the market will adjust, and the skill shortage will be only temporary. Workforce Development boards, State governments, and local education institutions have stepped up their programming and responsiveness to the needs of industry.
Up Next: the Big Shift
Just as programs aimed at addressing the skills gap are coming on-line (and governmental bureaucracies are scrambling to keep pace with the speed of business), innovative communities are recognizing that they are only a short-term solution. These communities are recognizing that the true end-game lies in their demographics.
Because of this, the new wave in Economic Development is becoming community development and talent attraction, not business attraction. And, as many have discovered through work and research, the key to attracting talent back into areas that are laid waste by demographic realities is the development of quality places and attractive amenities.
The next generation of workers is more interested in the quality of place and local amenities – including broadband access – than their predecessors were. Where small communities have been operating at an intrinsic disadvantage for business attraction, in the new economy, well-connected, well-invested communities that offer a great quality of life will have a leg up in the race for talent.
With this in mind, the Redevelopment Resources teams are continuously encouraging our client communities to invest in themselves. Recommendations to acquire and demolish blight aren’t based on a personal preference; they are based on market realities. To attract both business investment and talent to your town, communities must be willing to put the first nickel in the bucket. Investors are attracted to places where things are happening – not to places where plans have been developed in a vacuum with no intention for the City to follow-up and invest where they recognized that it was needed.
Winning in the new economy requires foresight, courage, and intuition. Most of all, it requires investment.
Is your community ready to invest in their future?