Harvesting Talent

March 12, 2012

Last week’s investor update focused on Ohio’s revamping of its workforce development/training system. The message – our system has become too complex for its customers (employers and job seekers), and it is an urgent and strategically important component of our economic development system. Message received. Our team can testify that talent and workforce development is at the top of our client’s priority list.

Let me give you an extreme example of how the economic development community is dealing with this issue. Rapid City, South Dakota, a growing city near the Bakkan Oil Reserves, has started to recruit workers or “harvest talent” from other states. This is nothing new, but its formality of the effort is. Western South Dakota is a sparsely populated area that is growing fast. Reports are that in Williston, North Dakota, the epicenter of the oil boom in that area of the country, McDonald’s is offering starting wages of $18/hr.

So, let’s bring this back to Ohio and other parts of the country that have large population centers and are starting to inch back to positive, healthy economic growth. What do we think of this? Do we want other regions to harvest our talent? Given our growing demand and the demographic changes we are seeing within our workforce – we need to nurture our crop of talent with extreme care, regularly rotate our crops so that we have a sustainable future, and we need to diversify so that we are not overly dependent on one sector or demographic.

All of the notes above point to a new phase of economic development which will include an unrelenting war for talent – the human capital necessary for companies to innovate, grow and prosper. This challenge is as fascinating as it is hard; thankfully we have great people throughout our state and our Region working on this problem.

One Columbus
Update First, The Ohio State University is in India this week (follow @presidentgee). Our team is also there meeting with growing companies with plans for the U.S. market. Our team is also traveling to Texas to speak with companies and location advisors this week with a group of our Region’s communities. Finally, we will be hosting business leaders and site location advisors at the first round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament here in Columbus at Nationwide Arena. Busy week!