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You Decide: Are We Prepared for New Jobs As We Can Be?

April 25, 2013 - Ernest Hohmeyer
Adding new jobs to the community is something we would welcome. The business of doing so is, well – a business. And like any business, there is incredible competition for jobs.

To stay competitive in business, you need to constantly evaluate your approach and to understand changes and trends with your customer base.

Have we stopped for a moment to consider based on all of these changes, “Are we prepared for new jobs as we can be?” Is it time to look at this business of going after jobs as a community and a region?

Are We Ready?

The good news is there is a tremendous amount of information already at hand to answer this question. This includes several “community investment strategies” done locally as well as on the county level. Locally, a strong foundation has been created with various comprehensive, master and community development strategies.

Should we take a look at “how” we are doing this? What are the targets, who is doing what, do we have updated community data for new businesses to analyze, marketing materials, welcome teams and a formal follow-up procedure?

Perhaps we have all of this and may just need to “tweak” our new jobs “products.”

Communities that are considered success stories in creating jobs have often used a tool called among other terms “Community Preparedness for New Investment.” They have one goal and that is to determine what a community needs to do to be prepared as best as it can for new jobs. This is not a unique exercise and there are many models out there.

So What do YOU Think?

How well are we prepared for new jobs? To help you think about this, I put together the following “Community Investment” sample. I looked at different models including the “Community Tourism Assessment Handbook” published by Western Rural Development Center out of Utah, my own library when I became a certified community planner including “Building Your Own Future,” written by Gary Green, Anna Haines and Stephen Halebsky, and the “Community Economic Development Preparedness Index” from the Wisconsin Center for Community and Economic Development.

Disclaimer The following is just a sample and is not a true “Jobs Preparedness Assessment.” Complete assessments are quite extensive and include whole sections on the environment, transportation, major industries etc. I do not have room in this post so I combined questions in a very unscientific approach as a “sample only.” Scores do not mean anything as this is not a complete assessment but the idea is to get you thinking about some of the factors other communities have used to assess their “preparedness” for new jobs.

Community Preparedness for Jobs: Sample Questions

All you need to do is rate these from one to four: 1. You “Strongly disagree” with the statement 2. Disagree 3. Agree 4. Strongly Agree with the statement

Rating Community Climate Our community has gained more jobs than lost over the last 5 years _____ I am confident that our local economy will grow over the next 5 years _____

Community Awareness Our business recruiting mission and objectives are clearly understood _____ It is clear who is responsible for business recruitment in our community _____ A strong partnership with clearly understood roles in business recruitment exists among community organizations. _____ Our town or village actively supports, funds and participates in job creation activities _____

Resources We are placing sufficient resources toward creating jobs _____ We are leveraging other community resources to create jobs _____ Our community is actively engaged with business development organizations outside of the community _____

Strategies for Jobs Our communities should invest in job recruiting strategies _____ Our community has a business investment strategy formally adopted and reviewed _____ Community jobs strategies are sufficiently part of a larger county or regional plan _____ We have identified the types of businesses that fit the community _____ There is a marketing plan to recruit businesses to our community _____ Marketing materials are well distributed and easily accessible _____ There is a well-organized public and private business welcome team _____ There is a formalized follow-up to business leads in our community among organizations _____ We offer adequate programs to help existing businesses _____ There is an active downtown effort to support revitalization and development _____ There is a coordinated program to assist new businesses _____ There is a well-recognized central place for businesses to go for assistance _____

Key Information to Give to New Businesses A "Community Profile" (fact-sheet that includes basic information about the community) is widely available _____ There is an on-line central source of business recruitment information for the area _____ There is adequate information available on our workforce _____ Resources exist to help businesses hire and train an appropriate workforce _____ A sufficient workforce exists for new or expanding businesses _____

Infrastructure The community has adequate retail space available for new businesses _____ There is adequate business park or industrial land available _____ Our community has an infrastructure improvement plan _____ There is surplus water and waste-water capacity for new businesses _____ Our energy rates are competitive _____ We are part of a plan for broadband _____ The community has an active master plan/comprehensive plan _____

Incentives The community has access to alternative business financing such as local, regional, state and federal programs _____ Information on small financing programs is readily available _____ The community has been successful in attracting federal and state funds for infrastructure and revitalization _____ There is a coordinated network among public and private business organizations to effectively guide businesses with business expansion and re-location _____

Quality of Life Our quality of life is a major asset to attract jobs _____ Overall, we have strong programs in place to protect and sustain our environment _____ We have strong educational and academic resources _____ The area has active arts, entertainment and events _____ There is a strong sense of community pride _____ Wellness and health programs, outdoor activities are key community assets _____ We have a good variety and diverse pricing of available housing _____ Our community has strong volunteerism and active community organizations _____

So what do you think overall? This is not a complete survey by any means and total scores mean nothing. Based on some of these factors other communities have looked at, are we as ready as we can be in this business of adding new jobs?


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