Let’s Detroit campaign aims to keep young talent in Southeast Michigan

Let’s Detroit campaign aims to keep young talent in Southeast Michigan
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Michigan wants to create the TripAdvisor for talent, and Detroit is leading the way.

Like any product or service listed on such a site, Michigan wants to unleash its full potential and attract and retain people. The Michigan Department of Talent and Economic Development’s (TED) Choose Michigan awareness campaign aims to do just that.

It seeks to keep current and future STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics) talent in Michigan and attract high-quality talent from other states. They are needed to fill 811,000 high-demand jobs, with a payroll of $49 billion, in IT and computer science, manufacturing, healthcare and other professional trades and businesses that will be available in the next six years as well as the 100,000 jobs open today.

There is a gap in talent and Michigan has to find a way to keep and attract qualified people to fill those jobs, which pay an average of $60,000 a year.

In order to keep and attract talent people need know about the comeback of Detroit, says Roger Curtis, director of the Michigan Department of Talent and Economic Development.

“(Choose Michigan) is the TripAdvisor of talent,” says Roger Curtis, director of TED.

Detroit has signed on big-time with its version of the campaign, Let’s Detroit. The Detroit Regional Chamber will launch the crusade aimed at keeping talent in Southeast Michigan in September with the support of more than 100 public, private, nonprofit and grassroots organizations.

“Our goal is retention so we’re not spending any resources on attraction, which is why the collaboration with the state is so important,” says Sarah Craft, manager of education and talent at the Detroit Regional Chamber. “Our target audience is current Michigan college students, particularly those at schools like MSU and U-M who have higher rates of students leaving the state after graduation, recent Michigan college grads and current young professionals working in the region.”

There are plenty of reasons for them to stay in Southeast Michigan, she says. There are jobs available in mobility, aerospace, health care, IT, manufacturing and more as well as a robust social life, strong neighborhoods and affordable housing.

The catch is, for many the perception of the Detroit area is far from stellar.

In focus groups conducted by TED, some said their first vision of Detroit was they would be living in a burned-out building. The Let’s Detroit campaign aims to change such perceptions.

To help keep talent in the region the campaign will use “sherpas.” We all know sherpas as elite mountaineers and experts in their local area. That’s the idea here.

All text and images are mockups

As part of the campaign young people currently working in the region will be available to talk with young college students about why they like Southeast Michigan and why they stay in the area. These “sherpas” are from large companies, such as Ford, Quicken Loans, as well as midsize companies, small companies and startups.

They will put information about themselves on the city’s website and decide how they want other young people to contact them so they can “talk to someone like me.”

“For example, if one of them is an engineer at GM he or she will say ‘this is what I do, here are my social interests and here are some professional events I attend. Come with me,’” says Craft.

Let’s Detroit’s website will help those interested in moving to the region explore industries and job opportunities, find social communities such as bike clubs, showcase events and provide information and community resources about neighborhoods and places to volunteer. Volunteering can be a real draw. “They want to make difference,” says Craft.

“Part of what we are excited to do is help them with regional access,” she says.

All text and images are mockups.

TED provided $100,000 in funding for the platform, which can be used as a template for other communities, potentially saving hundreds of thousands of dollars for other regions if they choose to use certain aspects of Let’s Detroit.

Detroit will give its wireframe to any community free. Any interested cities can contact Craft at scraft@detroitchamber.com or (313) 530-3067.

“The city must populate its site, describe the city and community and give employers a chance to link to it,” Curtis says. “Michigan cities are experts on their cities.”

There is no requirement for each city to adopt the Choose Michigan name. Existing sites can be used or new ones with whatever name a city prefers can be used. The Choose Michigan site will drive folks to the individual city’s site and each city website will also link back to the state site.

Attracting talent to Michigan is essential.

According to a state-commissioned Russell Research survey of college students and experienced STEAM professionals in Midwest states, 34 percent of students and 23 percent of professionals weren’t willing to move to Michigan because they aren’t familiar with the state or knew nothing about it.

The Choose Michigan campaign will initially target college students and millennials in three cities – Chicago, Pittsburgh and Madison, Wisconsin – using video, Snapchat, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube and personal conversations with Michigan millennials.

“We are not targeting San Jose or San Francisco,” Curtis says. “We are targeting cities where young people seemed most open to a move. (Chicago, Pittsburgh and Madison) are already showing a loss of talent. (The young people) are not going to Silicon Valley or California anymore so the time is ripe to attract them to another place.

Later targets could be Atlanta, Raleigh and Durham, N.C., and Austin, Texas, he says.

“People don’t know what the job opportunities are in Michigan or what we have to offer as a state. They need to know about the comeback of Detroit, Flint and others that are on the rebound,” Curtis says.

Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor are also scheduled to launch their sites in August.

“After launch, we will continue to meet with other cities around the state to see how we can partner together to move our shared vision of attracting and retaining talent to the state forward,” says Curtis.

The Choose Michigan awareness campaign is part of the Marshall Plan for Talent, which aims to bolster career-oriented programs in schools to prepare students for those jobs and create a talent pool for businesses. The plan is to keep talent in Michigan and attract people to the state.

“Instead of coming for two weeks (to vacation) we want them to come for 20 years,” Curtis says.

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