Workforce Data: How Important is this for Business Attraction?

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A region’s ability to demonstrate the availability of talented workers has become increasingly essential to all economic development activities. The availability of current and local labor data is critical when answering labor-related questions when courting prospective companies considering relocation to a community. In fact, Area Development 2015-2016 Corporate Survey illustrates the importance corporations place on labor when making location decisions. The availability of skilled labor, is considered “very important” or “important” by 100 percent of the respondents this year.

This past April Invest Buffalo Niagara engaged University of Buffalo Regional Institute (UBRI) to conduct an in depth study of the regional labor market. The study will update the 2010 assessment and build upon it, incorporating new analyses and research-driven supports for:

  • talent attraction
  • underemployment,workforce development and training,
  • employer costs,
  • employer union success stories, and
  • the expansion of workplace best practices

The geographic scope of the work will be the eight counties of Western New York, with an in-depth look at county-by-county comparisons for selected analyses, including differences in labor force size and composition, workforce skill and educational attainment levels, organized labor, wages and other payroll costs.

This work will engage experts and stakeholders representing employers, workforce development groups, organization labor and human resources, to provide insights on scope and research approach. Like the 2010 study, the report will be designed to produce a body of relevant, readable and strategic material to support understanding, decision-making and program implementation by labor market and regional economic audiences.  Invest Buffalo Niagara expects to release the results of the study in January of 2017.

Both Geico’s recent commitment to adding 600 jobs to the region as well as Sumitomo Rubber Industries recent expansion are good indicators that businesses view Buffalo Niagara as having a strong workforce but having the data to support these decisions is critical. Information resulting from the study can also help Buffalo Niagara plan for the future.

by Graham Smith, Research Director

About Jenna Kavanaugh

Director, Marketing & Communications Buffalo Niagara Enterprise

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