While there are signs that the economy is slowing improving, we find that businesses continue to be stringent in their hiring practices. In some cases, this may mean that they look outside the local area to find the best candidates.
While we understand that businesses want to hire the best employees possible, not hiring locally can have an economic impact on businesses and the health of our economy.
One prime example of the impact of hiring locally is a model that was developed for construction projects in Sarasota County. Suncoast Workforce developed strong relationships with contractors, sub-contractors and government entities who have partnered on various projects. What's unique about this effort is the contractors and subcontractors, who might have otherwise been strong competitors, came together to work toward common goals with a concerted effort to hire locally when possible. Depending on the project, there were very specific requirements to hire locally or, at minimum, hiring locally was strongly encouraged.
During the past two years, Suncoast Workforce worked with more than 40 contractors and subcontractors on 12 construction projects that are currently underway or completed in Sarasota County. This resulted in 257 local residents gaining employment. Even more astounding is that 209 hires came from the Newtown area.
We are presently working with Manatee County on a similar model as projects become available. In 2011, a special on-line tool became available to everyone, called "LocalQuotes4U", through a partnership with government and the Manatee Chamber to connect local business with bid opportunities in Manatee County. Additionally, Manatee County government has implemented a procurement process that helps to prioritize local construction trades within responsible bid responses.
Residents that have their roots in Manatee County work, live and play here and therefore have a vested interest in our community. If you look at the multiplier effect that hiring locally has on the area, more businesses would realize the beneficial impact on the health of businesses that would ultimately perpetuate more demand for goods and services. For instance, for every employed construction worker of residential structures on the Suncoast (Manatee and Sarasota Counties) has a multiplier effect of 2.28 for every dollar of wages earned. It is critical that businesses across all industries hire locally. By doing so, they support the residents of this community, strengthen business and improve the overall economy.
Mary Helen Kress, president and CEO of Suncoast Workforce, a not-for-profit corporation serving Manatee and Sarasota counties, can be reached at 941-358-4080.