On Monday, February 10, APEX, The Northspan Group and regional public and private partners launched NORTHFORCE, an innovative and intentional talent community strategy to invigorate the workforce in northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin by attracting, managing, placing, enriching and retaining talent.
is the web portal hub where people in search of a career connect with opportunities in the region. The website features:
- • An employer-employee "talent matchmaking" function
- • A searchable business directory
- • Area events, attractions and resources
- • Community portal sites including: Duluth, Superior and the Iron Range
The word will be spread via social media networking; a Facebook page
, a Twitter account
, direct business interaction and other targeted outreach strategies. There is no cost for individuals or businesses to participate.
"APEX is proud to be part of this exciting strategy that aligns the needs of business with talent in search of opportunities," said Brian Hanson, APEX President and CEO, at the NORTHFORCE launch event held Monday at Lake Superior College in Duluth.
NORTHFORCE is a collaborative initiative of APEX, The Northspan Group, Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB), the City of Duluth, Minnesota, and the City of Superior, Wisconsin. Speakers at the launch event included representatives from each NORTHFORCE community partner. The launch drew an audience of more than 75 students and private, public and philanthropic leaders.
IRRRB Commissioner Tony Sertich spoke to the crowd about the urgency of workforce retention and attraction. "In this region, 45% of the total workforce is over 45 years old. In some industries the statistics are even more staggering – in manufacturing and mining, 50% are over 45 and in utilities, 60%. According to the State of Minnesota, the job vacancy rate is at the highest point in our region. Matchmaking – people plus opportunity – is critical to ensure the long-term success of our region."
The region’s business community and prospective businesses alike have expressed the need for a quality, trained workforce. In response, APEX, The Northspan Group and partners conducted best practice research on talent attraction and retention strategies nationwide and moved forward with what is now the NORTHFORCE talent community.
"Austin, Kansas City, Louisville – we explored these communities and others to understand the strategies and tactics they use to attract and retain talent" said Randy Lasky, President of Northspan, referring to the research. "Quality of place is just as important as the quality of the job itself," Lasky concluded. "This regional public-private partnership will aggressively market our quality of place and world-class business opportunities."
APEX and Northspan are the primary administrators of NORTHFORCE. APEX manages the attraction, retention and community outreach strategy, while Northspan manages the database and employer-employee connectivity functions. For the past six months, the organizations have worked to bring collaborators together and to develop and execute the brand, design and database for NORTHFORCE.
Elissa Hansen, APEX Director of Business Development and Jon Loss, with Steam Creative Consulting, were instrumental in the NORTHFORCE branding, design of the websites and a creative marketing outreach strategy. Chris Maddy, Northspan Marketing Director and Anna Tennis, now the Community Talent Manager for NORTHFORCE, were responsible for the creation and implementation of the database.
"The region will see tremendous benefits from this collaborative approach," said Jason Serck, City of Superior Planning Director, on behalf of Superior Mayor Bruce Hagen. "Collaboration is the key takeaway. Partnerships actually get things done and bring people together."
Collaboration is more important than ever in today’s hypermobile society.
"People often mention to me that they would like to move to the area, but are not able to find a job," stated Don Ness, Mayor of Duluth. "We know the opportunities exist and up until now, people have had to rely heavily on networking to find positions. With the growth in our regional economy, we are competing against communities around the country for the best talent. We now have a way to connect people – visitors, people that grew up in the region, or locals – and keep them, by matching them with our regional career opportunities. I’m excited about the existence of NORTHFORCE and the collaboration’s impact on our talent attraction and retention efforts."
At the conclusion of the event, businesses and career-seekers were encouraged to sign up on the website. "The success of the collaboration is dependent on the business community’s participation," stated Brian Hanson.
For questions about NORTHFORCE, contact Elissa Hansen at email@example.com
Register your organization and promote career opportunities at www.NORTHFORCE.org