July 18, 2024

Potential Employees Want  More Than A Job

Find this content useful? Share it with your friends!

Streets lined with flowers, American flags flying for holidays, business storefronts maintained, and yards without parked cars are just a few ways a community can do its best to present itself to those passing through. You never know if someone will find your small-town charming just when they’ve had enough of the big city.

Small things can show local residents and visitors that a community has a sense of pride. A community with pride must be one that is forward-thinking, taking care of its residents and businesses, and looking to the future is the message we send out.

There is a saying that some people know the cost of everything and the value of nothing. These are the kind of elected officials who can kill a community’s efforts to grow and prosper. To understand the value of something, you must understand what gives it value making the expenditure of time or money not just worthwhile, but imperative.

A few years ago, the Red River Regional Council partnered with communities in northeastern ND to study how they could attract more workers who would become residents. They needed to learn more about the character and qualities of their region to develop strategies to “enhance where we live, work, and play.”

“Secret” shoppers were sent on missions to bring back their impressions of the communities, businesses, and people.

Roger Brooks of the International & Destination Development Association was hired to conduct the study. “His team’s mission is to help communities in their efforts to be sustainable, successful destinations while improving quality of life for residents,” the regional council said.

His study looked at how each community portrayed itself to potential visitors, workers, and businesses through websites. The secret visits helped further develop the image the community presented through direct contact.

Their study shook up the previous ways of thinking about economic development.

“For the first time in history, quality of life has led to economic and tourism development. Jobs are going where … the talent wants to be,” Brooks reported. “Every community should be working overtime to become the place talented people want to live. This means a strong community development effort.”

Brooks’ group found that community development is essential to economic development. Here are the top 10 items people now want when deciding where to live, Douglas says:

1) Safety (particularly for kids).

2) Good educational system and child care.

3) An engaged community that is welcoming and creates a sense of belonging.

4) Positive change happening – leadership and citizens who are open-minded to change and improvement.

5) Life after 6 p.m. and on weekends. Don’t forget strategies for winter – what do you have people to do during those long, dark days? Is your downtown open? What activities and events have you planned for your residents?

6) Top-notch recreation – tell the story of the many forms of recreation available to people in your community and area.

7) Quality healthcare (particularly for kids).

8) Walking and biking trails, paths, and school busing.

9) Housing availability, affordability, and quality.

10) Secure jobs or specific entrepreneurial opportunity.

In an intensive three-year study by the Gallup organization of 26 American communities, 10 areas were identified as essential to creating a sense of community. The top three were:

“What attaches residents to their communities doesn’t change much from place to place,” Gallup said of the communities it studied, including Duluth and Aberdeen, SD. “When examining each factor in the study and its relationship to attachment, the same items rise to the top, year after year: 

“Social offerings: Places for people to meet each other and the feeling that people in the community care about each other.

“Openness: How welcoming the community is to different types of people, including families with young children, minorities, and talented college graduates.

“Aesthetics: The physical beauty of the community including the availability of parks and green spaces.”

Aesthetic beauty is what young people seek in the place they will call home, Community therapist and economic development advisor Doug Griffiths says. That makes community beautification economic development.

Communities are judged by first impressions. Waste it because your town looks like it’s dying or is just another uninspired community trudging along with little hope for its future, and that is the future you will ensure.

By creating an attractive community, we will bring new families here to fill job vacancies, enroll their children in our schools, attend our churches, shop at our stores, and buy or build homes. 

People have choices. For every person seeking a job, there are at least three openings. Higher wages and benefits aren’t the only draw that brings someone to our communities.

“When a business or industry is looking to locate in the community it’s important to have an existing workforce they can draw from,” Griffiths writes. You won’t have that workforce available if your community isn’t one where people want to settle down with their families.

“Communities that invest in themselves can better keep and attract the people who energize communities and create new businesses,” the Center for Rural Affairs says.

We need leaders who understand community development is economic development. Unfortunately, too many only look at the cost of community development initiatives and not the potential payback. 

Economic development takes investment and can’t be approached with a miserly mindset. Fiscal restraint is admirable, but carrying it too far becomes neglect.  Every newly elected official should get a basic course in economic development to prepare them to make informed decisions for future prosperity. 

Neglecting beautification efforts at such a small cost will damage our community image and our economic development efforts.

Economic development takes investment and can’t be approached with a miserly mindset. Fiscal restraint is admirable, but carrying it too far becomes neglect.  Every newly elected official should get a basic course in economic development to prepare them to make informed decisions for future prosperity.

Find this content useful? Share it with your friends!