One of our goals at the I-77 Alliance this year is to further leverage partnerships, including sharing the knowledge and expertise of other organizations that are trying to accomplish the same things in our four counties and across the state.
In that spirit, we’d like to call your attention to the 2017 Competitiveness Report from Engenuity SC, a Columbia-based economic development non-profit that works to enhance competitiveness and prosperity in the Midlands of South Carolina.
While Engenuity’s mission and geographic focus don’t precisely mirror our own, two Midlands counties – Richland and Fairfield – are in both the I-77 Corridor and the Columbia MSA. Additionally, the labor sheds of those counties, (i.e. – the region where an employer can realistically expect to source its workforce), includes significant overlap; therefore, a lot of what Engenuity does as an organization resonates with us. Its Competitiveness Report is a great example and contains a lot of data and analysis that helps quantify the opportunities that these communities offer to existing and prospective new employers alike.
That said, the Engenuity report doesn’t try to paint a prettier picture than reality would suggest: It benchmarks the Midlands against similar regions across the Southeast, and the marks aren’t always high. But it also lays out specific tactics to address the shortcomings.
Engenuity divides its report into the following sections: Talent, Innovative Capacity, Entrepreneurial and Business Environment, High Impact Clusters and Livability. We invite you to read them yourselves, of course, and pay particular attention to the “What’s Next” conclusions in each section.
For instance, “What’s Next” in the Talent section lays out four strategies that should resonate with economic and community development stakeholders in all sectors, including educating young leaders in the skills they will need to succeed, and growing networks between educators and job providers through digital platforms and face-to-face contact.
Other metro areas do the same kinds of reports, including San Diego, Minneapolis-St. Paul and Charleston. They’re all worth reading, providing detailed information vital to economic development, place-based marketing and strategic planning.
Back home, we provide a similarly in-depth look at labor shed availability and readiness in our April 2017 Regional Workforce Study. We detail and quantify workforce availability and readiness, and reach much the same bottom-line conclusion as the Engenuity report: Our region skews educated and young, mobile and affordable, with strong middle skills and infrastructure to make it stronger.
We’ll tell you more about that in our next blog, which will focus on how our technical college system and other schools and organizations are working together to empower a ready and willing workforce, including many new employees who have benefited from on-the-job experience in a wide range of apprenticeships and int