The Ardmore Development Authority approved a company on Monday to conduct a comprehensive, 26-week labor study at a cost of $65,000 in Ardmore.
Site Selection Group, the company chosen for the study, is a location advisory and economic development firm based in Dallas with 29 global affiliate offices. The company has performed similar services for the Tulsa Regional Chamber and 13 counties in Northeast Oklahoma this summer, said ADA President and CEO Mita Bates.
Bates said the study is meant to respond to the needs of current employers who struggle to find a qualified workforce, as well as for industries that require the data the study will afford in their decision-making processes. Data that will prove more valuable than physical capital, she believes.
“There is not a discussion about our community that does not involve the need for a skilled workforce. Recruitment of potential industry now revolves more around workforce than available land or incentives,” Bates said. “A skilled workforce is essential for business retention and growth, regardless of whether it is existing or a new employer.”
The study will implement a regional labor shed and commuting analysis, incorporating both primary data from the workforce and employers, as well as additional commuting data to identify an accurate and defensible regional labor shed from which to draw employees. An underemployment assessment will be used to discover characteristics of the underemployed and quantify their presence.
The results will be used to frame a strategic plan for ADA to grow jobs in Ardmore and southern Oklahoma. But as each industry differs from one another, so too do the necessary qualifications for employees.
Feedback the ADA has received from various employers has differed greatly depending upon the job industry, from production to distribution to service. Industry credentials are necessary for many production and distribution jobs, for instance. Medical and research fields require some postsecondary education, and the hospitality sector typically requires more general physical labor.
“The intent of the study is to have valid, factual data that will be beneficial to our existing industries as they plan for the future,” Bates said. “A skilled workforce is essential for business retention and growth, regardless of whether it is existing or a new employer.”