City has new ‘talent attraction’ toolkit

The Columbus Area Growth Council, an alliance involving entities involved in economic development, tourism and education and business, has worked to create a website designed to attract talent to Columbus.

The “talent attraction toolkit,” created by Williams Randall Advertising, is designed to answer job candidates’ questions about Columbus involving housing, things to do, available employers and more, and includes a video promoting the city’s features, including affordability and educational opportunities.

There are also four other short videos emphasizing specific attributes of Columbus.

In May 2019, Columbus employed 4,200 people in architecture and engineering jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 1,980 workers were employed by the healthcare sector and 1,600 were employed in the healthcare support sector.

In 2020, the city and other local organizations hope to see those numbers rise as they work to draw more young professionals to the community.

“I think probably our greatest challenge is just awareness of our community,” said Karen Niverson, executive director of the Columbus Visitors Center. “A lot of young college graduates across the nation are thinking about taking jobs in some of the better-known tech hubs, right? So we may see people moving to, you know, California, Seattle, Boston. … So our challenge is to make people aware that Columbus is also a wonderful community to build a career.”

The conversation around attracting young professionals to Columbus began about two years ago, according to Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce President Cindy Frey.

“We didn’t have a comprehensive talent attraction strategy, so we set to change that, to improve that, with this project,” Frey said.

The council is an alliance that includes Bartholomew County, the city of Columbus, the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce, Community Education Coalition, the Columbus Area Visitors Center and the Greater Columbus Economic Development Corp.

Each organization helped fund the $99,000 talent attraction project. Contributions were also made by Columbus Regional Health, Cummins, Inc., Faurecia, the Heritage Fund of Bartholomew County and Toyota Material Handling USA.

Frey said that the council’s resources in forming the toolkit included third-party research about “what motivated job seekers to relocate,” a focus group of employers and conversations with “representative employees in our community and elsewhere.”

The toolkit is intended as a resource for businesses to share with job candidates so that they can see what it’s like to live in Columbus. While the target audience of the project is young, skilled workers in high-demand areas such as engineering, technology and healthcare, the toolkit can also be used by other businesses and individuals, Frey said.

“It’s our intention, and it has been from the start, that this be a community resource,” Frey said. “While it was developed in a partnership with some large employers, they aren’t the only ones who have a need to persuade talented workers to come be a part of their team. So it’s our goal that this be disseminated broadly and used broadly.”

Niverson said that there are two steps to attracting a workforce: “creating a great quality of life for people here and then sharing that message.”

The video and toolkit are intended to help job candidates get a clearer picture of Columbus as a community.

“If someone comes with a preconceived notion of what a small town in the Midwest is, we would hope that by seeing the community itself and some of the activities that are available here … we hope we’re sort of dispelling any myths about what small town Midwest looks like and feels like,” she said.

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The talent attraction website and video can be found at

Links to this site will also be shared on websites for the city, the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce, the Columbus Area Visitors Center and the Greater Columbus Economic Development Corp.