Building Tomorrow’s Workforce: The Best Solutions Exist Close to Home

building for the futureWe recently launched a new series, “Next Stop: The Future.” For several weeks, we’ll explore trends shaping the future of economic development.

Today, we explore how to prepare a future-ready workforce.

Why Does Workforce Matter?

“There is no doubt that the single most important factor for economic success in the future will be a talented, dynamic workforce,” according to the International Economic Development Council. “Companies increasingly look to talent and education levels during their site selection process.”

Therefore, Valley-area economic developers must have a plan for how they’ll develop and market high-caliber workforces.

Do This Now

How can you help build a local workforce that will attract prospects, encourage expansions, and retain existing business? Several experts recommend some practical tips.

Be a Bridge: Be the bridge between local companies and community workforce development organizations. Poll companies to identify their needs. Then, advocate for aligned training programs. It is also important to share your findings and work closely with your State economic development agency. (more…)

Google Searched, Found Its Next Data Center Site in the Valley


Big news this week from TVA: Google™ will build its newest data center on a TVA IMG_1378 copysoon-to-be retired coal plant site in North Alabama. Energy availability and reliability were major factors in this $600 million project, which will bring 75+ jobs to the Valley. There will be positive impacts for this area and the Valley for years to come.

After a global search, Google selected Widows Creek, a 350-acre TVA property in Stevenson, Alabama, to locate its fourteenth data center worldwide. Soon Web power will surge from a property that has produced coal power since 1952. “Google could have located their next data center anywhere in the world, but chose this site. What began as a power generation site facility will now become a data center harnessing the power of the Internet to connect people all over the world,” said TVA President and CEO Bill Johnson.

“This is a big day for TVA,” continued Johnson. “Our partnership with the Alabama Department of Commerce and the Jackson County Economic Development Authority helped bring an innovative, global technology company to the Valley.” (more…)

Announcing a New Professional Learning Lab Webinar Series: Lead CREATIVELY: Who will fund the future?

TVA has an a2015 TVAED_TVW_Color [Converted]-01ffiliation with the Professional Learning Laboratory, a network of professional economic development trainers and their guests, that offers webinars on topics specifically designed for the economic development practitioners, their staff, and supporters. The webinars are offered at a discount for individuals or groups through the TVA registration link below:

Webinar: Social Media for Targeted Talent Recruitment

Presented by: Josh Powell, JRD Systems and Jill Day, Gordon Food Service

Hosted by: Whittaker Associates, Inc.

Date:  Thursday, June 25, 2015

Time:  2:00 P.M. Central; 3:00 P.M. Eastern

Run Time: 90 minutes (60 minutes for presentation and 30 minutes of Q&A)

Register Now

The availability of quality talent is the #1 obstacle firms in the U.S. and abroad face in regards to their staffing efforts, according to LinkedIn’s 2015 U.S. Staffing Trends report.

Talent Sourcing is the most useful method to overcome this obstacle. Over the past decade, talent engagement strategies have changed significantly with the need to find and attract skilled workers on a decreased budget. It’s no longer effective to wait for replies on job boards. Companies must compete for talent by actively seeking out skilled workers to fill positions and create a pipeline of qualified candidates, and social media provides the platform to source these individuals. (more…)

The Future of Manufacturing: Clustering Is Key

Basic RGBWe recently launched a new series, “Next Stop: The Future.” For several weeks, we’ll explore trends shaping the future of economic development.

Today, we explore advanced manufacturing.

What Is Advanced Manufacturing?

Advanced manufacturing exists in many sectors across the globe. Sometimes, manufacturing is considered advanced because it yields a sophisticated product. Other times, manufacturing is called advanced because it employs a sophisticated process.

Whether it’s based on product or process, advanced manufacturing will always feature innovation.

In the Valley, advanced manufacturing sectors include aviation, aerospace, defense and chemicals, as well as metals manufacturing and processing.

Top Trend to Watch

The strongest trend driving advanced manufacturing is clustering. Companies in this category thrive most when they’re close to:

  • The suppliers they need
  • The energy they depend on
  • The R&D, commercialization and service entities that support their work

Clustering is an opportunity for future-focused economic developers in the Valley.

By bringing together the various players and organizations that form a cluster, economic developers can help build local ecosystems where jobs and innovation will grow. (more…)

The Future of Auto Manufacturing – Will Your Community: Be in the Fast Lane, or the Rearview Mirror?

futuristic luxury sport sedan car 3d renderingWe recently launched a new series, “Next Stop: The Future.” For several weeks, we’ve explored trends that are shaping the future of economic development.

Most recently, we began to explore the future of automotive-related economic development.

Last week’s blog highlighted how Valley-area economic developers can leverage their prime, central U.S. location to boost local automotive manufacturing business.

Today, we look at a second differentiator – one that’s also vital to winning automotive projects – a quality automotive workforce.

New Ways on the Near Horizon

“The cars of tomorrow are not the cars of the past,” said TVA Target Market Specialist Chris Berryman.

In fact, car making is already evolving to make automobiles:

Lighter – The federal government will require auto manufacturers to be more fuel efficient soon. Car makers are responding by making their products lighter, with advanced materials such as carbon fiber composites and aluminum. (Making a car even 10 percent lighter could make it 6 percent more fuel efficient, according to the Center for Automotive Research).

Smarter – The cars that our children and grandchildren – and even we – will drive will feature vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) technologies. Connective features will enable automobiles to communicate with one another, as well as with traffic signals and bridges.

More Independent – Automated vehicle technologies, such as video cameras, radar and laser-based ranging systems, will allow cars to “self-drive,” controlling their own speed, steering and brakes. (more…)

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