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Leading Locations for 2015: The MSAs with Strongest Prime Work Force Growth

Most of the MSAs that scored well in the “Prime Work Force” category have a strong university or technical colleges in the area attracting students (many of whom stay after graduation) and the job creation and investment that comes with research commercialization programs.

Q2 2015
Leading Locations for 2015 Resources
Labor is always a top consideration for any business location or expansion. Companies want to be in areas with plenty of highly skilled, available workers who have a reputation for productivity and reliability. HR directors also want to be sure the area is large enough to provide additional workers if needed, should an expansion or two be necessary in the future. If there are too few workers in an area, the overall labor market becomes more competitive, driving up costs. Most of the cities that scored well in the “Prime Work Force” category share some key attributes, especially having a strong university and technical colleges in the area. These education assets attract students, many of whom stay after graduation and become part of the highly educated workforce. University research also creates spin-off companies that tend to hire local workers, as well as attract outside business investment. The overall result is an in-migration of talented, educated workers; job and wage growth; and a more diverse labor pool.

For example, Richmond, Virginia, is well known for its nearly 30 colleges and universities, including Virginia Commonwealth University, the state’s largest university. Richmond’s population has grown by 6.7 percent from 2010 to 2014. The larger Richmond MSA has grown from 1.2 million to more than 1.26 million over the same time period, an increase of 4.3 percent — very solid in-migration numbers. As a result, the Richmond region offers a highly educated workforce, with about one third holding post-secondary degrees.

Employers also want readily available, skilled workers who are affordable. Some industries, such as manufacturing, prefer right-to-work states because they have lower unionization rates. Another way to keep labor costs down is by utilizing low-cost or no-cost training programs provided by states and/or counties. Quick Start, for example, provides high-quality training services at no cost to qualifying new or expanding businesses in Georgia. Last year Quick Start partnered with Hyundai DYMOS and West Georgia Technical College to develop the 350-person workforce for Hyundai DYMOS’ new manufacturing facility in West Point, Georgia, where it will manufacture manual transmissions, axles, and seats.

Quick Start is developing job-specific training based on company-specific technology. To facilitate this, Quick Start designed and built a simulated conveyor system and production line at Quick Start’s LaGrange training facility, where new employees can start hands-on training. The organization is also providing customized company orientation and safety, leadership, and technology training. “Thanks to Quick Start’s support, we will be able to start our Georgia business much more easily,” says John Kim, president of Hyundai DYMOS Georgia.

Area Development’s research desk compiled the statistics for this report. Locations were ranked according to the methodology explained herein. Location profiles/articles researched and written by Mark Crawford, Staff Editor.

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