Forgive me if I sound like a broken record, but St. Joseph must be better. Our ability as a community to be successful depends on St. Joseph being the kind of place people want to work and live. As I meet with our local employers I hear of their challenges in attracting talent to fill positions. They are not only competing against other companies, but they are competing against other communities.
Even if a local employer is able to attract someone they can often live out of town, typically in the North Kansas City area. We estimate that 20 percent to 25 percent of our workforce lives out of St. Joseph. This represents more than 15,000 potential residents, talented individuals who could be part of our community. If these people lived in St. Joseph, our population would be close to 100,000.
The underlying theme of the community plan, Imagine St. Joseph 2040, is that St. Joseph must be better. In this age of talent competition we have to take the steps to become more competitive in order to attract people to live in our community and take jobs. This means improving our older neighborhoods, creating an improved educational system, addressing crime, homelessness and mental illness, continuing to revitalize downtown and pursuing further job growth based on new and growing technology. To read more about the goals and objectives of the plan go to imaginestjoseph2040.com.
While we understand what we need to focus on for the future, there are things we need to be doing now to attract talent. In August, the Chamber will begin a Midwest-focused digital marketing campaign that will showcase local jobs and the benefits of an “Uncommon Life” in St. Joseph. We know with our low cost of living, unique amenities, affordable housing and small town character, we have a lot to offer, including a good job. The campaign will last until next spring and will provide a connection to local employers who have open job positions and information on St. Joseph.
Communities that are successful in growing and attracting talent will be the communities that grow and thrive. We need to make sure that St. Joseph is one of those communities.
R. Patt Lilly, President & CEO, St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce