It Starts with a Square

Workforce – Adept, Abundant, Accessible

BY Sarah Comeau

In today’s hyper-competitive arena of corporate relocation and expansion, be it an advanced manufacturing facility, corporate headquarters or high tech distribution facility, the number one challenge is recruiting and retaining talent.  Or maybe put another way, is there even any talent to recruit in the first place?  Consider the following: a November 2015 report in the Charlotte Business Journal shared that local, expanding companies were importing workers from elsewhere as the regional talent supply was found lacking. A Daimler Trucks executive calls the company’s recruitment effort to hire hundreds of new workers “challenging”, requiring the company to provide relocation assistance to workers from farther away.  A personnel manager at another company reports hiring a dozen machinists in 2015 and would have hired a dozen more, “if we could find them.” Technology companies fear their plans to hire new staff in 2016 may be sidetracked by a continuing shortage of qualified tech talent, according to a new survey from the Technology Councils of North America (TECNA).  The President and CEO, Steven Zylstra, says “We’re in the midst of a great phase of ingenuity and innovation, and companies are poised to do even more, but the shortage of skilled workers poses a serious threat to their ability to reach their goals.”

How is Collierville strategically positioned to not only provide the talent that organizations require to grow and prosper, but what is our community doing to train and attract the workforce necessary to be competitive on a regional, national and global scale? Who Lives here…Worker-Wise A 2016 ESRI population profile of Collierville, found that there are 34,274 citizens aged 25 years or older in our Town.  Of our total “working population”, 18,000 held either a Bachelors Degree, Masters Degree or Doctorate.  An astounding 54% of the Collierville working population holds an advanced degree!  This elevated percentage of highly educated individuals puts Collierville in the upper echelons of what is considered a “highly educated community.”  Highly educated communities typically have low crime, great schools, thriving neighborhoods, top shelf amenities and are a desired location for families and businesses considering a relocation or expansion.  Corporate headquarters, regional and district offices, call centers, R&D facilities, healthcare organizations and high tech firms all desire locations with highly educated populations, i.e. workforce.  As you begin to look out beyond the borders of Collierville, you soon discover that there is an abundance of educated talent well within reach of our community. Within a 10 mile radius of the Historic Town Square lives just over 64,000 individuals with a Bachelor’s Degree PLUS.  Branching out even further, you will find that within a 20 mile radius of Town Square lives just over 186,000 people with a Bachelor’s Degree PLUS.  As we drill down even further, there are 35,000 individuals of working age, within a 10 mile radius of the Town Square, who have Some College or an Associates Degree.  Within a 20 mile radius of Collierville lives just over 125,000 working age people with a High School diploma.  Whatever an organizations workforce needs might be, an abundant talent pool lives in or near Collierville.  The old college Try Access to an emerging talent pool is a critical piece of an organization’s site location workforce analysis.  Today, many organizations are interested in the availability and access to the educated and trained millennial population.  Service Master’s recent decision to stay in Shelby County and relocate Downtown was driven in large part of their desire to attract the younger worker.  Consider for a moment how many junior colleges and four year institutions are within one hour of Collierville:  

  • University of Memphis:  20,585 students
  •  University of Mississippi:  23,838 students
  • Southwest Tennessee Community College: 19,989 students
  • Rhodes College: 1842 students
  • Christian Brothers College:  1842 students

In addition to a strong flow of local and regional college graduates well within range of Collierville, the new University of Memphis Collierville Center is off to a stellar start, opening early in 2015.  Offering degree completion and continuing education opportunities, the U of M Collierville Center is a vitally important piece of our town’s workforce development efforts. All roads Lead To Collierville. Collierville’s strength is in its diversity.  With a burgeoning corporate campus community, emerging manufacturing and logistics base, coupled with our strong retail and commercial presence, Collierville enjoys economic diversity.  ESRI projects that over the next ten years, the two age groups that will give our community the highest population gains will be the millennials and baby boomers.  From an ethnicity perspective, our diversity matches national averages with a population that is 74% White, 15% African American and 8% Asian.   Another key strength is our status as a Regional Hub.  A regional hub must provide access from the surrounding towns, counties and states.  Collierville sits at the strategic crossroads of I-269, SR-385 and US 72.  Additionally, Poplar Avenue, Winchester Boulevard, Shelby Drive and Holmes Road all flow through our community.  Our regional hub status with updated and elevated infrastructure allows workers of all skill levels and from various areas, timely and uncontested access to town.  Is it convenient for talent to travel to and from their jobs in Collierville?  The answer is a resounding YES!

The Future is bright In the Fall of 2018, the new Collierville High School will open.  Our 450,000 square foot campus will be the largest and most sophisticated high school in Tennessee, educating over 3000 students with the ability to expand to 3500.  With an emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math), Collierville High School will be fully engaged in properly preparing our students for the next phase in their journey, be it college or workforce.  Additionally, there are plans for an elevated vocational component to the high school curriculum, offering hands on, technical and relevant training for those students choosing an alternative route to success. The Collierville Chamber of Commerce has recently introduced a Partners in Education (PIE) program which aspires to match high school students with businesses.  The ultimate goal will be to expose, train, prepare and connect students to experiences that will aide in their workforce educational growth.  One of the visions of PIE would be for a high school student who has been through the program, to walk off the stage with a high school diploma, and start an advanced manufacturing or technical related job the next day!  

Exposed, trained and credentialed! An abundance of educated, trained and  talented people, with timely access to a community that is committed to raising the workforce talent bar, will be one of the pillars of our town as we march strategically forward.  With a workforce that is adept, abundant, and accessible,  Collierville is uniquely qualified!

by John Duncan – Town of Collierville Economic Development

July/August 2021 Tour Collierville Magazine