Last week we held our 8th HR Roundtable since the pandemic started. We decided to shift from the COVID-19 response topic and focus on some really cool things that are happening in our business community, along with some challenges in attracting talent to our region.

The discussion started with an introduction from Greg Dietrich, SVP of Marketing & Communications from Alliance STL, which was formed about a year and a half ago. Their primary focus is to recruit new companies to our region.  AllianceSTL works cohesively with other economic development organizations around our region to help businesses find the best ‘fit’. As Greg puts it, we have a “Rising Tide Floats All Boats” mentality.

Greg shared some encouraging news amidst the pandemic – things have not slowed down, and their pipeline is fuller than ever! Some COVID-19 developments that have made St. Louis attractive to businesses are:

  • Businesses considering moving manufacturing, logistics and transportation – these are core strengths of STL
  • Work from home movement – with workers free to live anywhere, we have high quality of life & low cost of living
  • A very strong health care system (even more important when faced with challenges like COVID-19)

A huge win that Greg shared was the recent announcement of Accenture Federal Services plans to open an advanced technology center in STL. This will add 1,400 jobs directly to our region’s growing tech community over the next five years. In Greg’s estimation an additional 1,400 supporting or ancillary jobs will also be created by Accenture’s opening in our region.

In making its site selection decision, AFS used strategic regional insight, market analysis and the business and civic relationships facilitated by AllianceSTL. The spirit of collaboration stood out to AFS and ultimately set the stage for success.

After sharing the good news of what’s going on in the STL business community, Greg asked HR leaders what our challenges are in attracting and retaining talent to our region. The conversation focused around three main topics:

Welcome and support

With some of our participants being STL “transplants,” we talked about the challenge of breaking into established social circles.  You are probably familiar with STL being known for the “where did you go to HS” question.  This feeling can be quite isolating and can eventually lead to a recruit moving back “home” or to a location where other family members or friends live, even if they enjoyed their job here.    

How do we create opportunities for new non-native St. Louisans to feel connected to our region and one another?

While our individual organizations may have some opportunities for relationship building and connections internally, it would be helpful if there was an organized collaborative effort across the STL region to bring relocated talent together to supplement individual organizational efforts.  Below you will learn more about an organization in KC who excels in this effort.

Diversity Equity and inclusion

This is paramount for our region moving forward. Site selectors examine this closely. The current challenge our leaders shared is both finding diverse talent, and welcoming diverse talent into our community and showing them the culture STL has to offer. Our workplaces and region need to support our diverse talent to ensure a sense of belonging so these team members can fully contribute and want to stay here. 

How do we attract and retain diverse talent to our region?

One HR leader shared an organization called Insight St. Louis.  InSight St. Louis is a non-profit organization dedicated to recruiting the best graduates from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other undergraduate institutions to the St. Louis region to live and work.  Each year Insight St. Louis also hosts a unique experience aimed at helping current college students get to know the St. Louis Region and the dynamic career opportunities that exist in our corporate community.

Resources to attract talent

We heard from several participants that they don’t have the marketing material to share with out of town candidates on the selling points of St. Louis.  Or if they do have material, it’s not current. Participants shared a few resources that they find helpful:

While STL is about 20 years behind some other cities in an organized effort to recruit businesses to STL, AllianceSTL has made a significant impact in a short time, and they continue to gain momentum. We have a big opportunity on the talent side. Forming something like TeamKC, a collective of more than 1,000 recruiters, HR executives and community partners, who are all competing for talent, would help us come together to elevate St. Louis.

While we didn’t figure out a solution during our time together, we are taking small steps as HR leaders in our community to both attract talent to our region and put the support in place to keep them here!  More to come and as always, we are honored and humbled to be a part of these lively conversations, and to see the collaboration and dedication of these HR leaders in our community. 

We want to leave you with this video and we think it will make you excited about the work that’s going on in the STL community and what it means to be STLMade: We are the first choice to start out, stand up and stay!