Despite reaching an all-time high 61,800 jobs in November 2018 and a high of 55,200 employed Dubuque County residents in March, unfilled jobs continue to create challenges for employers both nationally and here.

Unemployment remains at historic lows, open jobs outstrip job seekers for the first time, and metros larger and smaller than ours are struggling to keep pace with job growth.

In the Dubuque Metropolitan Statistical Area, the health care industry grew 18% in the past decade and is expected to add another 2,600 workers by 2028, including retirements and replacements.

Manufacturing, which employs more workers than any other industry at 9,800 employees, is expected to grow an additional 9%. The finance and insurance industry, which employs nearly 5,000 people, will add more than 1,000 workers for new jobs alone, an estimated 24% increase by 2028. Most of the positions in all three of these industries will require post-secondary education and, the reality is, recruitment from outside our community.

It is not enough for the people living here today to be recruited, retained, trained and educated for the thousands of jobs that are ready to be filled. We need to strategically reach individuals outside our market and share the story of the Greater Dubuque area — our story of evolution, of growth, of strong neighborhoods, great schools, world-class museums, arts and culture, affordability and, most importantly, high-quality careers.

And this doesn’t mean only inviting back those who grew up here, but reaching out to individuals who attended college here, visited in the past or have friends who live here, as well as individuals who have not yet even heard our story. This will include inviting newcomers from diverse backgrounds and experiences to be part of our future story, and, therefore, part of our future success as a community.

To begin to reach this workforce, Greater Dubuque Development Corp. has integrated a community marketing and recruitment campaign into its workforce solutions programming.

The tagline, “Big Life, Small City. You’re Home in Dubuque” speaks to newcomers’ experience of the area as shared through focus group sessions held during Greater Dubuque Development’s Distinctively Dubuque program.

Newcomers describe the Greater Dubuque area as a “just right” fit — a place where they can achieve their big life goals without sacrificing small-town charm, safety and convenience. Individuals who have moved to Dubuque from a major metropolitan area find they can slow down and enjoy their life here, while having a big career. Newcomers relocating from rural America find the amenities and jobs they are searching for in a friendly, welcoming community.

GDDC will convey this message through a social media campaign (managed by Fourge Social) targeting early- to mid-career professionals on LinkedIn and Facebook. The campaign will target, but not be exclusive to, individuals who have some tie to the area already, such as local college alumni.

Potential newcomers who interact with the social media campaign will be driven to BigLifeSmallCity.com, a microsite designed to connect newcomers with information and resources as they contemplate their move or job interview in Dubuque. BigLifeSmallCity.com and the social media channels also will feature newcomer stories, including short videos highlighting the community from a young professional perspective.

To help companies reach out to the skilled employees they need, GDDC is launching the campaign alongside a web-based analytics tool through EMSI. Staff will work with AccessDubuqueJobs.com (owned by Telegraph Herald, which publishes bizTimes.biz) investor companies to pull a customized list of qualified talent from outside of Dubuque county based on skill set, education level, alma mater, geographical region and more.

Employers walk away with not only a list of potential candidates, but also with Big Life, Small City campaign resources to promote the community along with their company and job, a critical factor for today’s workforce.

To make participation in the campaign effective, GDDC has created a Big Life, Small City Employer Guide that companies can use to integrate this campaign into their existing recruitment and marketing practices.

  • Follow the campaign on Facebook and Linked In.
  • Share campaign posts with your social network and your company’s social networks.
  • Schedule an EMSI Profile Analytics Session, free for AccessDubuqueJobs.com investors to identify the talent you want to recruit.
  • Reach out to recruits and share Big Life, Small City campaign materials, along with company and job information.
  • Offer a community tour through GDDC for recruits and their families who come to Dubuque for an interview.
  • Once hired, encourage new employees to participate in the Distinctively Dubuque newcomer program to engage them in the community.

Growing the community will take everyone in the area’s effort. It will take changing how we communicate with recruits, how we promote our community, and how we hire and onboard employees. But if we all work together, we can all experience the rewards of a Greater Dubuque area.

Kristin Dietzel is vice president of workforce solutions for Greater Dubuque Development Corp.

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