Last month, I wrote about the top ten site selection priorities, of which, labor costs were (not surprisingly) ranked at #1. Workforce costs and availability are at the forefront of every decision-maker’s mind when considering the future of their businesses, especially as we’re in a time when labor is in short supply. So how are EDOs addressing this shortage to keep their service territories thriving? Many are collaborating with their community partners to strategize ways to grow local labor markets and remove obstacles to work, thereby, helping employers find the workforce needed to keep business booming. The International Economic Development Council’s recent report, “Growing Your Workforce: Strategies to Raise Local Labor Force Participation,” gives us a glimpse into several ways EDOs and their partners are handling workforce development in today’s business climate. A handful of solutions to highlight include:

Facilitating childcare for working parents

EDOs can advocate for childcare subsidies and tax breaks, supplement daycare workers’ wages, assist new daycare providers with industry entry, and create the space necessary for daycare centers to establish themselves. The key is to facilitate affordable childcare.

Encouraging worker- and family-friendly business practices

Promote workplace policies that improve employee recruitment and retention such as paid time off, flexible working hours, health benefits, remote work, sick leave, etc.

Providing transportation

While public transportation may not be robust in a more suburban setting, EDOs can take part in the planning stages to solve transportation issues or to offer free or discounted transit options.

Assisting justice-involved citizens

EDOs can work with local entities to create re-entry programs for individuals previously incarcerated or under probation. Training and education can help develop the skills in these often overlooked populations.

Engaging youth

Workforce participation for ages 16-24 has declined over the years due to home responsibilities, educational priorities, and a variety of other reasons. There is also a subset of youths that are removed from school or work due to pregnancy, substance abuse, homelessness, and other hardships. EDOs can engage youths through work readiness programs that develop skills and help address barriers to employment and schooling for disadvantaged populations.

IEDC’s full report addresses each of the aforementioned solutions plus more with case studies as examples. They also provide recommendations for EDOs looking to implement similar strategies within their communities, so it’s definitely a must-read! You can find the report HERE.


Source: Anderson, L., Burke, H., Brimm, M. (2023). Growing your workforce: strategies to raise local labor force participation. International Economic Development Council. <>