Pardon Our Dust
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McGuireWoods Consulting senior vice president and director of infrastructure and economic development, Chris Lloyd, recently spoke with the Transatlantic Business and Investment Council (TBIC) on challenges and opportunities within economic development over the past eighteen months and how the current labor shortage will shape the U.S. workforce for years to come.
During the pandemic, there has been an increased reliance on data and virtual tours for companies in the site selection process. In addition, companies looking to expand or relocate are also evaluating how a community responded to the pandemic in their decision-making process.
“Economic development and site selection is a relationship business built on trust,” Lloyd said. “Data only takes you so far. At the end of the day, you need to see and touch and feel a facility. You need to understand the community and that can only truly be done in person.”
With travel and visitation resuming, companies are starting to invest and grow to meet the anticipated consumer demand.
In regards to labor shortages, the pandemic exacerbated an ongoing issue.
“The reduction in workforce participation, particularly among older workers or those in careers most impacted by the pandemic (hospitality) has reduced the pool of available workers. The rise of remote work opportunities has helped, but that too creates challenges in forecasting future real estate needs,” Lloyd said.
Workers are also reevaluating their career choices during this time, creating challenges and opportunities for companies.
“The premium placed on talent is now higher than ever and successful communities need to find new ways to both attract and retain talented people. They also need to look to innovative ways to upskill and reskill those people negatively impacted by the pandemic,” noted Lloyd. “Already, several models focused on talent pathways (Washington and Colorado are notable examples) are emerging which could lay the foundation for long term success.”