In every market in which I have either lived or worked the local Chamber of Commerce has often led the discussion regarding the recruitment (or re-recruitment) of talent for the area’s employers in order to ensure the continued economic competitiveness of the city or region. Twenty years ago, in a larger market than my current one, I participated in roundtable discussions led by the local Chamber, where we lamented the brain drain as we took a look at the graduates from local colleges and universities who departed our fair city for job opportunities elsewhere. “Would we ever get them to return? we asked. “What can employers do to make sure local grads have opportunities here at home? we pondered.
There was a lot of talk and good amount of hand-wringing but, at the end of the day, no action-oriented programs were implemented on a wide-ranging scale other than initiatives by individual companies.
What’s rather exciting though is that my local group, the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, is putting its money where its mouth is and doing some pretty cool things in this area and incorporating TALENT into their traditional programs that focus on innovation, public education analysis/planning, and small business development
With a realization that Talent Development and the “talent economy” can drive business and regional success BRAC launched a 5-year plan in late 2011 which focuses on 2 main areas: talent retention and talent attraction. There are some exciting things happening and I asked Julie Laperouse, Director of Talent Development at the chamber to share some information; (Julie and I started having some great conversations about the state of employment in the Capital Region when she attended #truNOLA in October 2012). She told me about a few of the programs being offered via the Baton Rouge Area Chamber:
- Talent Database – BRAC currently has more than 450 resumes in a database of people who live out-of-state, but are trying to move back to Baton Rouge. Employers are encouraged to send Julie requisitions/job descriptions and she will assist with a search of their database. Information can be found here.
- Regional Tours – When top out-of-area candidates come in for interviews BRAC staff will assist employers by taking the candidate on a fully customized tour to show them the benefits of moving to Baton Rouge. BRAC has been providing this service since the fall of 2012 and it’s been met with rave reviews. Julie told me “I just did a tour today and the wife said that she wasn’t too excited about moving here, but the tour dramatically changed her thoughts about moving to Baton Rouge.
- Newcomer Packets – BRAC provides “goodie” bags that employers can give out to new employees from out of the area; the bags include a Region Guide, as well as some coupon books and other information about moving to Baton Rouge. Employers can either get boxes of the Region Guides directly from the Business Report or interested employers can let Julie know in advance and she will coordinate putting together the full packets.
- Capital Region 101 – This is a half-day event that serves as an orientation day to Baton Rouge and is completely free for attendees; the next event will be held in October. While the general sessions are open to the public, if a company hires several out-of-state employees in a relatively short time, BRAC will provide a customized session just for their employees.
There are some amazing things coming together and I, for one, applaud the Chamber for working directly with investors and other employers to capitalize (pun intended) on our growing reputation as a hub for business growth and opportunity.
Geaux Baton Rouge!