The war for talented workers is accelerating and Minnesota’s demographic challenges are serious enough that many of the state’s biggest companies and nonprofit firms are launching a new effort to attract more professionals and retain more of those who arrive here unmarried.
Greater MSP, the regional economic development group, on Tuesday announced the initiative, called “Make It. MSP.” The group rolled out a new website, including tools for recruiters, maps, virtual tours, photos and videos of the region, and a job search portal.
“We are number one at retention, but we’re middle of the pack for attraction,” Doug Baker, chief executive of Ecolab Inc., said at a news conference in St. Paul. “The old adage ‘It’s very difficult to get people to move to Minneapolis-St. Paul, but impossible to get them to leave’ really bears out with the facts.”
Low unemployment and an aging workforce mean companies in the state are in a war for talent, and “we need a sense of urgency,” said Mike Langley, CEO of Greater MSP.
Former Minnesotans and workers with families are easier for the state to attract and retain.
Sonya McCullum Roberts, a Cargill Inc. executive, grew up in Apple Valley, spent her career all over Texas and abroad in the oil industry, and moved back to Minnesota with her husband so they could raise their children here.
“I love the Midwestern values,” she said.
But one group that Minnesota struggles to retain are those who arrive here single. A goal of the initiative is to help those people get more socially connected. Greater MSP’s research shows the state needs to improve at welcoming newcomers.
“We know, both episodically and when you sort the data, that single folks who are not married, don’t have kids, don’t have connections through schools, churches and recreational activities, their retention rates are lower,” Langley said.
Greater MSP hopes more people will follow in Frank Alarcon’s footsteps. The 24-year-old University of Chicago graduate grew up in the Bay Area, moved here a month ago after two years in the Peace Corps, purely because he thought the Twin Cities is the best place to live in the United States.
He spoke at the news conference and said he networked with about 100 people in the Twin Cities from El Salvador, over the past year or so, asking advice and looking for a job.
“To me, the generosity I encountered was very much a validation of my decision to move here,” he said.
Alarcon got a job at Siteimprove and said his first 30 days in Minnesota have exceeded his expectations.
He hasn’t yet lived through a winter in the state, which Baker said has historically dominated the conversation about Minnesota as a place to live. “We’ve got to do a better job of cutting through and not be defined by the latest blizzard,” Baker said.
The 2018 Super Bowl will be an opportunity for Minnesota to show off its embrace of winter, Langley said, and perhaps shift the negative national perception.
“The whole theme for the Super Bowl is the ‘bold north,’ ” Langley said.