Over the last several months, the Texas Workforce folks have been collaborating with area economic developers and some of our region’s employers to look at talent retention and regional economic growth strategies.
The project was funded by the Office of Economic Adjustment in the Department of Defense to look at a hypothetical downsizing of Red River Army Depot and to determine how our market would absorb the employees that would be affected. However, the scope of this effort expanded to look at regional economic growth and talent retention more broadly.
As I’ve shared with you on previous blog postings, talent and workforce quality and quantity are leading indicators for attracting business to our market. The final study on these issues was completed by Austin, TX consulting firm TIP Strategies.
You can read this gigantic two part study by clicking on these links: TIP Strategies Report Part 1. Tip Strategies ReportPart 2.
This study challenges all of us to do better. At the Chamber we are undergoing some reorganization and new focus to address some of these critical gaps in economic development emphasis. However, this report also gives us good news. For example, our largest economic and jobs sector is manufacturing. While many cities in the United States struggle with manufacturing jobs and attracting manufacturers, we are a strong manufacturing region. This is one of the reasons why our economy has been so stable over even the roughest recent economic times. This is a coveted position to be in and we must do all that we can to retain and grow this vital part of our economy.
The other good news is that our workforce is well aligned with a number of growth industry segments including logistics/distribution, energy, machinery, transportation and fabricated metal manufacturing.
We must however prepare our workforce for 21st century jobs in these industries and make sure we all understand that technology will continue to improve in manufacturing and distribution causing a decrease in jobs even in our local companies. This improved productivity will make our region continue to be globally competitive but it will strain individuals whose skills don’t keep pace with market demand. That means our employees have to be on their toes and continue to develop in their careers.
Please take the time to review these reports and spread the word. It’s not every day that we have such a strong and comprehensive report card come out on our regional economy. Educating ourselves on our strengths and weaknesses will make us all better in the long run.
- Bill Cork