Think of it as having your cake and eating it too as far as workforce development.

The Community Improvement Corporation of Defiance County (CIC) heard about workforce attraction marketing during its meeting Thursday. The idea behind workforce attraction marketing is to attract a workforce now from laborers outside the area.

The CIC heard about the idea from Jim Walton, chief executive officer of Brand Acceleration.

“We (Brand Acceleration) help communities tell their stories for job attraction, but lately it’s been for workforce attraction,” he said.

Walton said in the spring of 2016, he started to hear from business officials that workforce development is too slow.

His company then began marketing to attract workforce from areas an hour to an hour-and-a-half away from sites.

“It’s 2019 now and we still have companies that need people and need them now,” he said. “Employers are at a panic. Neighboring counties don’t have people either (to handle the workforce needs).”

He said now his company uses the mission of “come live here and work here” to attract workforce to an area.

“Now we go out 200 miles, across a five-state area if need be,” he said. “We’re asking people to pull up their family and move here. We are saying we have a great quality of life (in a town).”

Walton said his company has created a self-funding marketing initiative. They will go into a company and evaluate its needs, develop a tentative marketing plan, then return with the plan and ask the business to fund it.

“You have employers who want to grow,” he said. “It’s important we get people to work and live here. You (businessmen) are the risk takers.”

Walton said that what he needs from the economic development office is just a way in to speak with the businesses.

“You are on the cutting edge,” he said. “We’re asking for your blessing.”

It was asked if Walton thought there would be any backlash in asking companies to fund a workforce campaign considering that companies already have stepped up to fund the workforce development manager position through economic development.

“It’s in a different bucket then economic development,” he said, adding that the workforce development manager position is to handle long-term workforce issues. The marketing campaign is for current issues.

“Our workforce development is more long-term,” agreed Tyson Stuckey, treasurer of the CIC board. “That’s what we’re invested in.”

Turning to other workforce development issues, workforce development manager Carla Hinkle reported that planning for the skilled trades signing day at Four County Career Center in Archbold is going well. The day will be May 16.

“They are setting up for 200 (people to watch that),” she said. “There are 12 students that will be highlighted. These are either Defiance County students or students that will be working at a Defiance County business.”

The signing day is to showcase students who will have a job waiting for them in skilled trades upon graduation.

Hinkle also said plans are underway for summer manufacturing camps. The fee will be $50 per student, and scholarships will be available. Camps will be held July 8-11 Defiance and July 15-18 in Sherwood.

The Work It Out program also was discussed.

Hinkle and Kaylea Scott of Impact 419 have been teaching the program to Eric Sprague’s class at Defiance Junior High School. It deals with soft skills. She hopes to continue the program and noted it would be nice, in the future, to have books for all the students to do the activities. Funding, however, is an issue for the books.

Turning to other matters, economic development director Jerry Hayes updated the board on the recent Tax Incentive Review Council.

“It was a very good year, 2018,” he said. There were only two small issues. As far as job creation, Consolidated Grain & Barge, in its agreement, was to create 15 jobs. It is currently at eight. Hayes said they not only are having trouble finding workers, but CSX changed its rail rates so it’s not as advantageous as they thought to ship grain from that location. Hayes said the company does expect to increase its employers to 12 this year, despite the obstacles.

The other issue was a letter needed to be sent to the city council to address Community Reinvestment Areas 1 and 2 as they don’t have a job creation component and also do not have to give notices to school boards.

Hayes also noted that text messages have now been deemed public record for public officials. He noted that as a CIC, any text that deals with confidential information would not be included in that public record designation.

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