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KEDCO Talent & Entrepreneurship Stories: Retaining, attracting, and supporting talent to help local businesses thrive

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Thinking like there is no box
As employers continue seeking skilled people to join their teams, we’re pushed as a community to think differently about how to attract and retain talent to help local businesses thrive. That means putting our best foot forward to showcase all we have to offer and pouring into our homegrown local talent by developing, supporting, and offering opportunities so they choose to stay here.

Communities and employers have learned there’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to attracting and retaining a skilled workforce. But how can we think more creatively about offering value to employees? And can we learn from others who are doing it well?

Ongoing discussions – new ideas
The Kosciusko Economic Development Corporation (KEDCO) recently hosted a luncheon featuring a talent-focused panel discussion with Lori Stanger, Vice President of People & Culture at Wildman Business Group, Matt Smith, Chief Development Officer of Catholic Charities of Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, and Mike Rutz, Co-Founder & CEO of MakeMyMove. The purpose was to introduce thought leaders, create discussion, and build new connections and ideas around ongoing efforts to retain and attract the talent we need in our business community.

“Talent recruitment has become an important pillar of our local economic development efforts and is an area of focus for many of our peers across the state and around the country,” said KEDCO CEO Alan Tio, “Our community has a unique and compelling quality of life story and employment opportunities for people to build successful careers.”

Highlights from the panel discussion included ways to create a welcoming workplace and community for newcomers, with emphasis and insight from Catholic Charities on supporting refugees, investing in our next generation pipeline of local talent by developing programming, training, and pathways for students, and the importance of retaining valuable employees.

Among many helpful points, Stanger spoke of the impact of investing in local students and emphasized the value of intentional programming to welcome people to the community and workplace.

Smith hit heavily on opportunities available to companies for hiring refugees. Catholic Charities can come alongside employers to help with refugee resettlement.

“Our goal is to help them [refugees] integrate into our society,” said Smith. “We think communities are stronger, workforces are stronger, and the culture is stronger when we can offer the connections they need.”

Rutz shared his insight on how MakeMyMove is attracting and moving remote workers to plant roots in new places. The organization helps connect remote workers to participating MakeMyMove communities, most offering incentives for movers. These people have remote jobs, but they invest in the local economy where they live. Rutz also highlighted the importance of thinking creatively to develop a workplace culture that attracts and retains.

“You’re [employers] marketing yourself to people in a world where there are more jobs than people,” said Rutz.

All panelists spoke about the importance of creating a workplace where people choose and want to be.

“We’re grateful Lori, Matt and Mike were able to join us to share their expertise and ideas. We’ll continue our efforts at KEDCO, and work alongside partners such as OrthoWorx, Kosciusko Chamber of Commerce, our local schools and higher education, and others who are leaning into our community-wide talent efforts to support local companies in finding the talent they need,” said KEDCO Talent Partner Jessica Hauck.

KEDCO Talent Initiative
Through its Talent Initiative, KEDCO is participating in the MakeMyMove program, thanks to funding from Kosciusko County and the Indiana Economic Development Corporation. The program builds on work with MakeMyMove predecessor TMap that was funded by the City of Warsaw. KEDCO will also host a second “community showcase” event for corporate recruiters this fall.

“Many corporate recruiters who are recruiting for local companies don’t live here, and perhaps haven’t yet had the chance to visit Kosciusko County, so this event is a welcoming invitation for them to experience firsthand what our community has to offer,” said Hauck.

Learn more about KEDCO and how the organization is making an impact in Kosciusko County by visiting Connect with KEDCO on Facebook, Linkedin and Instagram @kosciuskoedc.

Attendees gathered for the Leadership Roundtable panel discussion at The Taharaa Room
at Noa Noa Wood Grill & Sushi Bar.