Thursday, July 09, 2009

Talent Dividend: Boomerang Migration

(Blog reference Brian Kelsey at Civic Analytics) Clicking through the links, I land on a positive assessment of Oklahoma's "Project Boomerang":

The Chamber didn't want a job-search website, but more of a connecting point for employers and potential recruits. To prevent the former from happening, the Chamber set guidelines employers must follow before posting job opportunities. In doing so, the Chamber avoids becoming the middleman, and simply lets recruits know jobs are out there. Recruits then work directly with the appropriate employer.

As for locating its target audience, the Chamber went straight to family-friendly Oklahoma. As press releases were sent out within the State about the project, family members of the recruits rushed to make their loved ones aware of the program in an attempt to get them to move back home. ("Family and friends" is a top reason a person will move back to Oklahoma.)

To measure results, the Chamber uses a feedback loop from participating businesses. Some businesses have told the Chamber that their highest quality recruits have been discovered through the Boomerang project. According to the Chamber staff, at least 4 successful job hires have happened through Boomerang, and 450 people subscribe to the newsletter. Those are significant results since the program's launch just last Fall.

The target audience is appropriate and encouraging boomerang migration seems to be a hot topic in economic development circles (also, see yesterday's post). Given the stated metrics, I'm interested in a cost-benefit analysis. I'm working on my own talent prospecting project for the Youngstown Business Incubator and my numbers are encouraging (after only one month), but also similarly modest.

The take-away is that this kind of migration is but a trickle. Engineering migration is notoriously difficult. At this point, I don't see how it could address a shrinking population. The focus must be on quality, not quantity. That said, there's a lot of room for improvement and I have a few good ideas I'm exploring.

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