Friday, September 21, 2007

Ponca’s Take on Jobs

I’ve observed that one of the keys to maintaining a good economic development organization is communication with the various stakeholders in the community. An ED group obviously can’t share confidential information on who they are talking with, changes within companies in town, who’s expanding, etc. However, they can let citizens know about more general information. Ponca City and Duncan, OK both have very similar weekly emails that are some of the best that I’ve seen.

Last week’s Ponca City newsletter had an interesting take on their looming job shortage, in light of the announcement earlier this month that the U. S. Economy had shed 4,000 jobs in August despite having added over 600,000 in the past six months. Here is what they had to say.

THE CHANGING FOCUS OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT…it used to be called industrial recruitment back in the day but it changed around 1990 when growing the economy became about a lot more than just recruiting companies. Here’s an interesting tidbit: Last week, the labor department reported that the nation, as in the United States of America, cut 4,000 jobs. At the same time, the estimate of available jobs in the Ponca City area was about 1,400 open jobs. Put another way, there are enough open jobs in Ponca City for one third of all of the people laid off last week in the whole country. Sounds simple enough. The challenge is that the open jobs here are not unskilled jobs. The alignment of the right skills and education with the right jobs is not easy. There is also the matter of having someplace they can live and someplace they want to live, (do not underestimate the importance of the latter). Finally, they have to know about us and have the resources to come here. Lots to do.

If you aren’t doing a weekly or monthly newsletter to your constituents, you should be.

You probably didn’t see it reported in the press, but did you see that the teenage unemployment rate rose by 6% in August. Do you think that this is possibly tied to the $0.70 increase in the minimum wage? I’m sure that Congress didn’t foresee this when they increased the wage, but these are the ramifications that I often find, labeled under the Law of Unintended Consequences. What do you think?

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