Triptychs: Attracting Talent in a Tight Labor Market

A family moving into a new house

TIP’s Triptychs series features three examples that, when brought together, illuminate a subject of interest to our clients, partners, and colleagues.

Faced with tight labor markets and ongoing skills-based shortages, talent remains a top concern for economic development organizations. Tailoring talent attraction efforts around specific audiences (young families or former residents), occupations (technology workers), or geographies (high-cost cities) can provide a means for addressing the challenge. The following case studies highlight three initiatives aimed at attracting talent through creative strategies such as individualized support specialists, targeted events and networking, and comparative online tools.

Boomerang Greensboro

Boomerang Greensboro specializes in attracting former residents back to Greensboro, North Carolina, by promoting the community’s lower cost of living, growing downtown, accessible parks and greenspaces, shorter commute time, and support for remote workers. The communications campaign is accompanied by a suite of services designed to support those interested in relocating back to their hometown. Testimonials from recent Boomerangs (individuals who have already returned to the area) detail the benefits they have experienced since their move. Greensboro Gurus connects returning residents with assistance finding jobs, housing, and schools for their children, and with help answering any questions they may have. The campaign mainly targets young adults who may be interested in buying a home, starting a family, working remotely, or caring for aging family members. The City of Greensboro has also made investments that support the effort in the form of a down payment assistance program designed to incentivize home ownership and spur the local housing market.


Sponsored by Greater MSP, a public-private partnership focused on driving competitiveness and inclusive economic growth in Minneapolis-St. Paul, MAKE IT. MSP. seeks to attract and retain professional talent in the 16-county region. Through its website, the initiative offers services and events designed for three groups: newcomers (MSP Hello), professionals of color (BE MSP), and tech talent (MSP Tech). In addition, MAKE IT. MSP. targets postsecondary students and recent graduates through activities like Discover MSP, an annual event that connects hundreds of interns with leading employers and provides opportunities to learn about the community and network with peers. Along with expanding its graduate retention efforts, the Greater MSP leadership confirmed its commitment to diversity in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Findings from MAKE IT. MSP’s 2019 survey of professionals of color, along with the group’s ongoing analysis of migration data and other indicators, highlighted lingering gaps in the experiences of this group. In 2021, Greater MSP launched ConnextMSP, a talent network designed to help young Black, Indigenous, and people of color develop the relationships and gain the experience needed to launch their careers in the region.

Find Your JAX

The JAXUSA Partnership, the economic development organization serving the seven-county Northeast Florida region, developed Find Your JAX to help attract talent to the area. The online platform brings together information about neighborhood characteristics, cost of living, and commute times through interactive surveys and comparison calculators to make it easy for prospective residents to consider a Northeast Florida location. The Find Your Perfect Neighborhood Quiz surveys prospective residents about desired proximity to amenities and leisure activities; preferences between urban, suburban, or rural communities; and transportation needs. Based on the answers, the tool provides three to five neighborhood matches, along with information about the perks of each neighborhood and the schools in corresponding districts. The Cost of Living Calculator allows users to compare the cost of living in their home city with Jacksonville, including data on housing, utilities, groceries, transportation, and healthcare costs. The Commute Times tool uses expected work location and commute tolerance (in minutes) to recommend areas the potential resident may want to consider for housing.

Ashlin Gray, TIP’s 2022 Economic Development Intern, contributed to the research and writing of this post.

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