Finally, a thoughtful and organized action plan to address a serious problem for Prince George.
Good job, Initiatives Prince George, for taking a leadership role this week by providing businesses and the public sector with a clearinghouse of information on the advantages of living and working in Prince George. For companies trying to recruit staff from the Okanagan, the Lower Mainland and out of province, having a one-stop online resource about Prince George to refer prospects to is a huge help.
Recruitment of skilled workers is a major issue for Prince George. Northern Health has been in the recruitment business for years, looking nationally and internationally for doctors and specialists willing to work in Prince George and in rural, isolated communities across Northern B.C., providing essential medical service. UNBC and CNC also cast wide recruiting nets for faculty and senior administrative staff because getting the best people and then getting them to come to Prince George takes some serious effort and persistence.
This new recruitment tool (www.workprincegeorge.ca) is a great move by new IPG chief Heather Oland. Unlike her previous boss, Tim McEwen, and former economic development officers before him, Oland seems to recognize that the best way to attract new employers to Prince George is to help the private and public sector attract new employees.
Too often in the past, economic development staff in Prince George took it upon themselves to target new employers but didn't offer enough help to employers already here to entice new, talented staff unavailable among the local and regional population.
Skilled workers in other parts of the province and the country simply don't see Prince George and Northern B.C. as a destination to further their careers and improve their standard of living. First, they have to be told about the opportunities in Prince George and then they have to be told about Prince George.
The online recruitment resources provided by IPG helps unify the outgoing message that Prince George is a great place for a skilled worker to do meaningful career work, with great social and economic benefits to living here.
IPG is also in the midst of hiring a manager of marketing and communications. This role differs significantly from the vice-president of strategic initiatives job Oland had before moving into the big chair. Under Oland's leadership, this manager will help organize more marketing and communications efforts like the recruitment toolkit and online resource unveiled Wednesday.
This work doesn't happen by accident or off the side of someone's desk. First, the key message about Prince George and its professional opportunities needs to be crafted into a sophisticated and compelling story. Then, that story needs to be presented, in a sophisticated and compelling way, to prospective employers and employees looking to Prince George as a possible location for growth and development.
Putting up an "Open For Business" billboard at the outskirts of the city or showing up to a trade show with a brochure and a big smile doesn't cut it when you're competing with Kamloops, Kelowna and Nanaimo.
Prince George's story is excellent, as the Live-Work-Play section of the IPG website makes clear, highlighting affordable housing and living, numerous activities and amenities for all four seasons and all interests, educational resources, outstanding health services and a well-linked airport.
Refining that story and its presentation (after all, plenty of communities also have all or most of what Prince George has to offer) requires a professional communicator that knows how to shape a message and then market it far and wide to a targeted audience.
With the city's core services review hanging over its head, IPG and Oland have stepped up with a great supporting tool for businesses that need to recruit workers. Hopefully, Wednesday's announcement is the first of many new bold and engaging moves from the city's economic development agency.