It’s no secret that availability of talent is a huge driver for companies looking to grow. A quick look at Amazon’s HQ2 search – and their selection of some of the nation’s fastest-growing tech talent pools – highlights that. Each year, Area Development magazine polls CEOs and corporate site selectors on a variety of economic development topics. Over the past decade, a clear upward trend has identified skilled labor as the number-one consideration when companies look to establish a new location.

What does that mean for Columbia? First, it is critical to retain the talent we already produce from the University of South Carolina, Midlands Technical College and many other regional higher education institutions. These students are a ready-made pool of applicants for entry-level positions, but companies must be intentional about building relationships that bridge the gap from school to job. The second key element is attracting talent. Building a strong brand as a place where people want to live, learn, work and play is essential to attracting talent. We need to encourage residents to be ambassadors for the Columbia region on a day-to-day basis, whether while working or playing.

Ultimately, if Columbia is to reach its potential as one of the most economically competitive metros in the Southeast, our collective efforts must focus on attracting, retaining and building the next generation of diverse leaders who can shape our region.

Originally published in our April 2019 Newsletter