A Pennsylvania Town Is Creatively Selling Itself to Recruits In Ways Cities 10 Times the Size Are Not

Add a new name to that list of locales — I’m talking about Minneapolis, Nashville, Austin, Detroit, even the Yukon, to name just a sampling — working overtime to brand their cities as desirable places to take a job: York.

York, Pennsylvania, lies about 100 miles west of Philadelphia and 50 miles north of Baltimore. With about 44,000 in population, it’s dabbling in multiple approaches to talent attraction that far larger cities are not.

The spiritual epicenter of this effort is something called Creativity Unleashed. It began about seven years ago, not for talent attraction, but for business and tourism attraction. But, says Kim Lentz, in the last two years, it shifted to a talent-attraction tool to bring people to York, or back to York if they graduated and moved away.

Lentz is the workforce development manager with the York County Economic Alliance, and oversees Creativity Unleashed. She says that Creativity Unleashed is not just the website, but a brand or a label put on the “energy and the activity going on in York County. We have a lot of creative firms in York, and we don’t just manufacture. A lot of our manufacturers design and develop the products as well. We really are just using Creativity Unleashed as a brand to promote the excitement and energy for young and innovative talent.” HR and recruiters can “sell their business very well, but they’re not tour guides.”

TTRPackage.2he economic alliance is going through an RFP process to redo the site, with a revised Creativity Unleashed site expected to go live late in the summer.

The alliance has streamlined a packet of information sent to recruits by employers. Now, that packet includes two things. One is a hard copy of the magazine YRK, developed to help improve recruitment to York. “When we hand it to someone, they typically don’t want to put it down,” Lentz says.

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The second piece is a bright orange USB bracelet (shown in the image). On the USB is a short set of links, including information about downtown York, links to positive national news stories about the community, information about cultural activities, and more (these kinds of links).

Recruiters request this packet from the alliance either on a one-off basis, or by asking for, say, 10 at a time. Prior to the new, streamlined packet, the alliance got about 14 requests in a quarter for an information packet. It received 300 the following three quarters.

On top of this, York has a new “rack card” (image attached). For students at a career fair thinking they’d rather be in Philly, Baltimore, and so on, for the higher salaries, perhaps seeing how many groceries their paycheck can buy will change their minds.

RackCardPicThe York alliance is working on some other ideas. For instance:

  • A speakers bureau. Speakers will go in to local businesses and talk about things going on in the community, such as volunteer opportunities, that employees may not know about. The idea is that the more people get involved in the city’s goings-on, the more they’ll want to stick around at their jobs.
  • Suggested itineraries. Say a job candidate’s coming in town for an interview, and they’re going to stay the night or the weekend. An itinerary will recommend some good places to go depending on the time of year, as well as the time of day. “So they are seeing the best of York,” Lentz says.
  • An ambassador team. A recruiter could hand off a job candidate when they’re done with the company part of the visit, ready to learn more about the city, to a member of the York community who has agreed to take the candidate out to dinner and show them around. A recently formed advisory committee, as well as a York young professionals group, are possible sources of ambassadors.

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