Digital Talent Attraction and Cedar Valley Branding in 2020

posted on Wednesday, January 15, 2020 in Grow Cedar Valley

The Iowan Project, Denver, Colorado

Iowa needs more people – perceptions and resources are crucial. “There are more than 80,000 job openings across the state of Iowa, and it underscores the strength of our labor market,” said Gov. Reynolds. This barrier is not exclusive to Iowa or the Midwest but is one impacting all fifty states.

But there is positive movement in the Cedar Valley labor force and shows that now more than ever we need to double down on all talent attraction efforts.

From 2018 to 2019 in the Waterloo-Cedar Falls MSA, there was an increase of 5,284 in the area labor force, as shown by the Bureau of Labor Statistics - an increase of Live the Valley Facebookalmost 6%.

Many factors contribute to population growth in an area, but one crucial factor is perception. In 2019, the Professional Developers of Iowa conducted a research study to gauge Iowa’s perception, finding that people do not see or recognize Iowa’s high-quality jobs and recreational opportunities. Additionally, over two-thirds of respondents indicated, “they have seriously considered moving to a new place after visiting.” Partnerships with local tourism organizations are critical as well; attracting travelers to festivals, cultural events, and recreational opportunities; then providing additional resources targeted to travelers, making the case for relocation.

A community’s perception has a trickle-down effect on Cedar Valley businesses and communities. Now, more than ever, when candidates are looking at relocating, it goes beyond the job description and company culture. Candidates want to know what kinds of people and opportunities are already here, providing a window into life outside of working hours. Additionally, any community branding cannot be pushed out without community engagement. A community needs to own their brand, and the messaging sent.

The Cedar Valley took a regional approach to celebrate and promote the Cedar Valley through Live the Valley.  Live the Valley is an online movement that promotes and celebrates the career options and recreational activities to enjoy in the Cedar Valley. By partnering regionally, Live the Valley packages the best of what each community has to offer, promoting the Cedar Valley through pictures, videos, articles, and interactive tools such as the cost of living calculator. The talent attraction and branding movement exist as a website, social media brand (@LiveTheValley) and magazine, all geared toward making the case for relocation. New tools are always in development, geared toward engagement and providing helpful information to someone who is discontent about their current living situation.

Last year, Live the Valley piloted a Virtual Reality experience to technology talent in Denver, CO (pictured right). It will be expanded upon, allowing users to “step into” the Cedar Valley even if they are thousands of miles away. Additionally, new and innovative marketing techniques have and continue to set the Cedar Valley apart from other communities.

We are excited about the success of Live the Valley since its launch in late 2018, reaching almost 2 million people and engaging hundreds of thousands with Cedar Valley messaging, which lead to successful talent and business attractions and relocations.

Additionally, the state has started its marketing campaign, to address perceptions of Iowa as a whole, creating a prime opportunity for our region to funnel talent utilizing heightened perceptions.

Live the Valley serves to heighten perceptions of the Cedar Valley and connects talent with relocation resources and jobs. It has proved its worth as a tool HR and recruiters can use to sell the Cedar Valley and as a Cedar Valley branding machine. In 2020 we are continuing to push perceptions, provide more engaging and beneficial relocation resources, and continue to put the Cedar Valley on the map and celebrating all the available great opportunities.

- Aaron Jarnagin, Live the Valley Project Lead

Aaron Jarnagin, Live the Valley Project Lead