Tuesday, July 31, 2012

War For Talent: Ann Arbor

Despite its 4th place ranking for "creative metros," Ann Arbor has a talent attraction problem. It's a great community with a strong economy, most thanks to the University of Michigan. Finding the right people to fill the growing number of innovation jobs is tough:

The tighter labor market means employers such as Terumo Cardiovascular Systems and ProQuest have had to become more proactive to find the talent they need.

Terumo, which makes heart-lung machines and other medical devices, has 35 positions to fill and has hired almost 200 workers during the last 18 months. To find experienced medical device workers, the company has participated in Michigan Economic Development Corp. recruiting events in Boston and northern California.

"We're trying to get people to come back to Michigan," said Rhonda DeLuca, Terumo's director of human resources.

Targeting expats is a great way to get around the mesofacts barrier. Anyone who grew up in Michigan can distinguish between Detroit and Ann Arbor. Take note of the geographic focus. It's hard to engineer migration. Ann Arbor has to concentrate resources strategically. Piggybacking on the MEDC is a good idea.

Better yet, Ann Arbor should investigate established return migration flows. Such an analysis is tricky business. But there's likely a lot more boomeranging going on than Ann Arbor realizes.

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