Maury County, Tennessee, enjoyed a relatively young housing stock, low rates of violent crime, and a healthy share of residents ages 20 to 39. These attributes, along with its location in the orbit of the Nashville metropolitan area, should have made Maury County a contender for talent attraction and retention. However, the county’s relatively low levels of educational attainment among young adults, average high school graduation rates, high unemployment levels, and lagging per capita personal income figures told a different story.
In 2012, the Maury County Alliance (including the Maury County Chamber) engaged TIP Strategies to identify a set of indicators to track “talent” as it relates to economic vitality. The purpose of the project was to identify benchmark counties and to compare these counties and Maury County across these metrics. The resulting Talent Report Card was comprised of five phases of work: 1) indicator identification; 2) benchmark identification; 3) Maury County talent snapshot; 4) benchmark county analysis; and 5) qualitative analysis of benchmark counties. The methodology and findings from each phase of the project were highlighted in the report in a series of annotated tables and charts. Because the presence of certain amenities is also relevant in a discussion of what draws people to a community, TIP sought to capture the “softer side” of talent development, attraction, and retention. The consulting team supplemented traditional economic and demographic data with a thorough qualitative analysis around key amenities and assets in each benchmark county. The results of the qualitative analysis were provided in the form of a searchable Excel database of over 200 assets, a summary matrix, and an interactive online map