The Forward Together: Economic Resiliency Plan, released in October 2021, provides an economic overview of the region, and a characterization of the region’s workforce, foundational assets, and competitive assets.
The plan identifies three economic resiliency indicators that will play a role in the future economic recovery of the region, which include Supply Chain Disruptions, Aging Workforce, and Automation. Like many regions, nationwide, businesses in the LCLG Region are facing a workforce shortage. The Forward Together: Economic Resiliency Plan identifies four conditions in the region that are exacerbating the worker shortage and/or influencing the future of employment in the region:
Limited Population Growth + Aging Workforce
Limited population growth has direct implications for the region’s economic sustainability, resiliency, and growth. A consistent population, relatively low median household income, and an aging population characterize the region’s demographics. The ability of local businesses to grow is hindered when additional workforce is not readily available. While the region hopes to sustain and increase its population base by showcasing the economic and quality of life opportunities in the region, supporting career and skill building within the existing labor force must also be a strategy to catalyze economic changes. Growing the labor force from within will mean mitigating barriers to entering the workforce, like access to child care, transportation to employment centers, and access to affordable housing, among others. This could also mean working with populations that face additional behavioral health obstacles to employment, such as mental and substance use disorders, and need labor force reentry resources.
Disruptions in the Foreign Worker Model
The region’s tourism and agriculture sectors have historically relied on foreign workers to meet heightened seasonal employment needs. With border closures during the pandemic, this employment resource was not an option, and employers scrambled to find replacements. While foreign workers have supported many sectors in the region for years, meaningful economic resiliency strategies will address potential future disruptions to this employee stream.
New Employee Attraction Approaches
Workforce shortages occurring across the country forced businesses in the region to explore new models to attract workers. With increased remote work flexibility and decisions to relocate being place-based rather than job-based, the region should continue to highlight quality of life and work to ensure that the region has the housing and infrastructure needed to attract and retain residents and workers.
Based on the input from the economic assessment, LCLGRPB staff, Working Group, surveys, and industry-specific stakeholder focus groups, the LCLGRPB identified 6 economic imperatives for supporting regional economic resiliency against future disruptions.
The Forward Together: Economic Resiliency Plan identifies 39 recommended projects or initiatives that advance the six economic priorities described above, for the purpose of improving economic resilience. Insights generated from the Resiliency Plan have informed proposed approaches identified in the CEDS, to secure economic resilience in the LCLG Region. Please find the full report here, Forward Together Economic Resiliency Plan.