ABCD Talent Recruitment Initiative Awarded First Energy Grant
In 2018 the Altoona Blair County Development (ABCD) Corp. launched a pilot program called the First Frontier Pioneer Outreach program. ABCD staff collected data on locations where there was likelihood of a strong concentration of potential Blair County natives (expats) living and working or those who would have a potential cultural alignment (love the outdoors) to a community like ours. We then organized and hosted a networking event in that location. The first effort was in Arlington VA. The second effort was hosted locally on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving with the idea being that many people would be coming home from those locations presenting a good opportunity to meet and greet them on our home turf and talk about employment or start-up opportunities. Each effort presented numerous lessons learned on how best to improve the effectiveness and turnout for these events.
We are pleased to announce that not only are we continuing with our outreach program and efforts for 2019, but also that the First Energy Foundation has awarded ABCD a $2,500 grant to help offset related expenses of the program. For that we say thank you!!! With the assistance of this grant, in 2019 we intend to apply those lessons learned last year, once again targeting these key locations to include Washington, D.C. and Pittsburgh PA.
The Future of Blair County
Thomas Friedman, the author of The World is Flat, posed this question – “Are you a community with more memories than dreams, or more dreams than memories?” Do we react only to short-term needs or are we preparing for a generation who has yet to be born? What will Blair County be like for future generations? There is no doubt that we should make no small plans. We need to think big. Dream bold. Plan forward. And make it happen.
ABCD is working to ensure that Blair County is among the best places in world to live, work and thrive; a community where talented people with diverse backgrounds, cultures, family structures and experiences want to live, work, invest, celebrate and create new opportunities for future generations to come.
Blair County is changing; change that is being driven by global market shifts. Continuous advances in technology, public policy, consumer tastes, business shapes and styles demand that communities regularly take stock in their assets and value propositions. We must do so in order to stay relevant and compete for future investment.
Talent is Key
Attracting and retaining talent is our number one economic development priority. That really has always been the case. Behind every “targeted industry” or “corporate relocation” are people. People who make decisions about where to live and work for a variety of complex reasons.
While net new job opportunities are slowly being created in Blair County, it’s a retirement boom that is driving the greatest demand for jobs. Since 2010 more than 3,200 people have reached retirement age. Between 2017 and 2020, it is expected that an additional 4,000 will leave the labor force. Most anticipate that at least 80 percent of these jobs will be filled with a higher skill set and higher starting pay.
Data tells us that most of the people needed to fill these positions will likely come into Blair County from outside the region bringing new ideas, points-of-view, family structures and expectations. That is both the challenge and opportunity for economic development.
Mountain communities like ours are being sought out like never before. Future generations are increasingly choosing places that fit their lifestyle often ahead of a job. Technology has enabled anyone access to global markets at the touch of a button. If they have the skill set, employers of all types and sizes will work to accommodate.
We must ensure that we have the best broadband, housing, and quality-built environment that help people become rooted or re-rooted here.
Stay tuned throughout 2019 for our outreach events, videos and messaging…..the best is yet to come!