Look Out, Nashville. Louisville is Dead Set on Cherry Picking Your Young Professionals
IQS is always proud to see our work in action! This particular article sheds light on some of the findings of our talent attraction research.
Please click here for the original article written by Grace Schneider of the Courier Journal.
“By any measure, Erin Warren was a highly marketable professional when she began weighing job offers last year, in hopes of moving from Muhlenberg County.
The 39-year-old with a bachelor’s degree in nursing and a master’s in business considered a job in Lexington, but Louisville and a position selling surgical supplies won out.
While the transition from Greenville, Kentucky, hasn’t been seamless, Warren and her daughter in kindergarten are starting to feel more at home.
“What drew me to Louisville over Lexington was there’s so much more in Louisville.” More diversity. More choice in churches to attend. Family oriented things to do, Warren said.
It turns out, Warren fits the profile that economic development and political leaders are keen on attracting right now. To fill an estimated 8,000 open professional jobs and boost the college-educated workforce, they’ve charted an ambitious strategy to recruit a net increase of 4,000 new educated people by late December and to add about 18,000 overall through the year 2020.
Like other regions of the country, Louisville has an aging workforce. And lower numbers of people in their teens and early 20s are coming up to fill open positions in accounting, IT and nursing and other fields. The shortage comes as the local economic climate is improving and joblessness is on the decline.
In recent years, without the influx of new immigrants, the 1.2 percent growth in overall population would put the area in negative territory.
“Without population growth, we can’t grow the region. We can’t grow new companies and more jobs,” said Deana Epperly Karem, vice president for regional economic growth at Greater Louisville Inc., the city’s chamber of commerce.
GLI received more than $1 million in two large grants last year to kickstart talent attraction efforts. A recent market study by IQS Research offered insights into what it’s going to take to draw more people like Warren to the community.
The takeaways include:
- – Projections that more than 65 percent of the high-growth jobs through 2026 will come from 10 occupational areas roughly under health care, business services and IT fields.
- – High-growth potential jobs are those that have an expected growth rate of at least 4 percent. They include registered nurses, personal financial advisers, operation managers, accountants, auditors, claims adjusters, computer system analysts and software developers.
- – The recommendation that the region needs to cast a wide net, marketing the area within a 500-mile radius. The area includes St. Louis, Cincinnati, Chicago, Atlanta and Nashville. Because some current transplants have come from bigger cities in the Northeast, researchers suggest adding the New York and New Jersey metro areas.
- – Three groups of workers were identified to attract and retain: those with no connections to the region; people who grew up here and moved away at some point; and others who live here now. Attracting new talent is big, but the research reinforces the need to explore ways to keep professionals from jumping to other cities.
In the next month, the organization will contract a marketing firm to handle the next steps – conducting focus groups and devising messages that will resonate.
“Our theory is it’s going to include a lot of sophisticated digital marketing,” said Lisa Bajorinas, GLI’s vice president of entrepreneurship and talent.
“What is it that they need to hear and see to come here?” That’s the information they’re looking for, she said.
They expect that because many young professionals are juggling student loan debt and high living expenses in bigger cities, messages about the region’s affordability will be part of the package. For people 40 and older who are raising kids, they think they’ll need to focus on family friendly aspects of the community, Bajorinas said.
“It’s just great to have the data and be committed to following the data,” said Carla Dearing, CEO of IMC, a marketing firm, who’s leading a GLI task force on talent attraction.
They need to understand what’s created a buzz in cities where young educated workers are heading, places like Austin, Texas, Nashville and Raleigh, Dearing said, adding that “Louisville thinks it has every chance to be next.”
From Warren’s perspective, Louisville has a lot going for it. It’s small enough that it’s easy to get around, and “it’s not overwhelming like Chicago or New York.”
She and her daughter moved to Middletown and joined Southeast Christian Church. “There’s alway something to do,” and many activities outdoors in the summer are free, such as Waterfront Wednesday concerts near the Big Four Bridge.
The downside is that, contrary to all the talk about Louisville’s affordability, Warren said, it’s still very expensive to live in nice neighborhoods. She also found that getting a grip on where to enroll her where to enroll her daughter in school was “really nerve-wracking for me.”
To simplify things, her daughter went to kindergarten at Christian Academy.
Her advice to those looking to craft a campaign is to focus on how the community is going to help them create their ideal lifestyle. “We come here expecting opportunity, and we want to find it,” Warren said. “If they want to bring people here, it’s got to be affordable for that age group.”