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Does Jacksonville have an edge attracting and keeping people and jobs during labor shortage?

·4 min read
Selling Jacksonville is just as important as selling your company to a prospective employer, according to a speaker at a recent JAXUSA luncheon.
Selling Jacksonville is just as important as selling your company to a prospective employer, according to a speaker at a recent JAXUSA luncheon.

Since the pandemic, people are changing how they want to work, and taking on a challenging job isn’t enough.

A growing number of people willing to move across the country for a job want quality of life as much as a good career opportunity. That’s the message received by more than 500 people last week attending JAXUSA Partnership’s luncheon. The organization's mission is to be a catalyst for economic growth and maximize the region’s resources to recruit jobs and capital investment to Northeast Florida.

One thing is certain. Competition among cities is fierce. Keynote speaker Katherine Saunders said as labor and talent shortages continue to dominate the news cycle, employers are left struggling to fill the estimated 11.5 million open jobs across the United States — with only a reported 6 million unemployed people available to fill the jobs.

That breaks down to only 0.5 people available for every open position nationwide, said Saunders, executive vice president of client strategy and talent attraction lead for Development Counsellors International in New York. Without considering skill shortages, the odds are not in favor of employers looking to attract and retain employees.

Unemployment: Jacksonville jobless rates among lowest in Florida, hold steady in May

Career opportunities: Job Corps partnership with Johnson & Johnson Vision promotes manufacturing

It's time to rethink ways to recruit staff. In her keynote address, Saunders shared national research and how it applies to Northeast Florida's competitive edge in the war on attracting talent. She also said that more than ever, social media is playing a big role in influencing people's decisions to relocate to various cities and companies.

Before she showed slides of how lots of cities and economic development agencies are taking a variety of marketing approaches to help their local and regional communities thrive, the luncheon started out with comments from Mayor Lenny Curry.

Next, Moez Limayem introduced himself as the University of North Florida's seventh president. Then two companies received new awards: the JAXUSA Innovation Award (TriageLogic) and JAXUSA Talent Champion Award (Black Knight Inc.)

It was all a build-up to help people understand more about a talent pool that includes students from area universities as well as people working at companies that are already thriving in the area.

Several companies have already made their move to Jacksonville

It was great to see several slides of companies that have either decided to relocate to Jacksonville or add more jobs to a current location. The region’s five target industries are advanced manufacturing, financial services, health and biomedical, advanced transportation and logistics, and IT and innovation.

In 2021 the company reportedly bringing the most jobs was Allegis Group, a global talent solutions business that announced in late June plans to add 500 new jobs to their existing Jacksonville office. The Maryland-based company already has 1,900 employees in the region.

Then there’s Spida USA, a robotic arm manufacturer that’s relocating operations from Ohio to the Jacksonville region with plans to hire 60 people.

Jacksonville is a location that's marketed well for people and businesses looking to possibly relocate to the city.
Jacksonville is a location that's marketed well for people and businesses looking to possibly relocate to the city.

Those are just two examples of results that stemmed from efforts of JAXUSA to court and play a role in supporting companies. Their work is paying off and should be commended.

In 2021 there were 2,906 new jobs in Northeast Florida with a $524 million capital investment, according to JAXUSA. In 2020 there were 2,477 new jobs with an $856 million capital investment.

So far this year, 1,325 new jobs have been added to the region with a $270 million capital investment.

Job market: Businesses seeking to hire as many Jacksonville workers start year hunting for new jobs

“The top factor for business decision makers when contemplating relocation or expansion is available and skilled talent, and the regions that are able to attract, develop and retain those individuals will win the war on talent,” said Aundra Wallace, president of JAXUSA Partnership. “With record low unemployment rates across the United States and especially in Northeast Florida, the need for economic development organizations like JAXUSA to share the livability factors with potential talent through campaigns like "Find Your JAX" (findyourjax.com) has never been more urgent.”

Jacksonville is better positioned than a lot of cities because the city is in growth mode. There's plenty of opportunities to make a career here and have fun at the same time with amenities that range from beaches and rivers to eclectic neighborhoods.

This article originally appeared on Florida Times-Union: Can Jacksonville gain advantage due to national labor shortage?