Talent Recruitment

With unemployment below 3.5 % in many parts of the county, economic development organizations are becoming employee recruitment agencies for existing businesses.  Over half of the economic development staff at one large economic development organization I visited recently was engaged in talent recruitment. The long lead time for training programs to upgrade skills will drive the need to find and recruit pockets of talent from other geographic areas where layoffs and plant closings have occurred.

To support this need to find pools of talent, our firm has developed a searchable national database to track layoffs and plant closings.

For example, Mitsubishi has announced in November 2015 that they are closing their assembly plant in Normal, IL and will lay off 1,260 works.  Mitsubishi’s closing has resulted in a number of their parts suppliers also closing.

This type of business intelligence will help site locations consultants identify locations with available workers and enable economic development organizations and employee recruiters to target their recruitment efforts using social media.


2015 saw a number of telecommunication companies announce their 1-gigabit projects for major cities in competition with the Google Fiber initiative.  Chattanooga just announced that their municipal utility would up the speed of their community-owned network from a 1-gigabit system to 10 gigabits.  Here in Holland, MI, our Board of Public Works will launch our 1-gigabit pilot project in January 2016.  Many cities throughout the country are finding that broadband fiber has become a basic infrastructure needed to connect to the global marketplace of ideas and commerce.

Cyber Security

2015 saw a number of data breaches including the Director of the CIA’s personal email, voting records of 190 million voters including name, address, phone number, and voting record, major banks’ credit card data, and other cyber attacks resulting in losses estimated to $400 billion.

As a result of these attacks and subsequent cost, cyber security has become a major growth industry.  In fact, it is one of the fastest growing sectors we see.  Wall Street is now pouring millions of dollars into these companies fueling their rapid growth.

The growth and sophistication of the attacks are expected to increase dramatically in 2016 with our smart phones being the most vulnerable through website browsing and apps containing viruses.   Much effort is underway to provide users with a safe and secure communication infrastructure.

AI/Machine Learning

The exponential rate of increase in computing power, and the subsequent drop in cost, have spawned a technology revolution in machine learning and artificial intelligence, making our smartphones event smarter, enhancing medical diagnosis (IBM Watson), and aiding in fraud detection for credit card companies.

Predictive analytics and machine learning (pattern recognition) will create what will feel like (and maybe are) an invasion of your privacy.  Your use of the Internet leaves a digital trail of data that will be exploited.  For example, even my Fitbit is leaving a digital trail of my exercise, the food I consume, and more. Our Google searches and our LinkedIn and Facebook profiles all contain valuable data that allow marketers to target their audience in great detail as well as predict future needs and desires.

Virtual Reality

During breakfast the other day, my friend told me about his virtual assistant, which turns out to be a human in another part of the planet that schedules his travel, makes appointments, and takes care of mundane tasked to free him to focus on his start-up business.   More and more of us will be working remotely in collaboration with partner organizations at different locations.  The value we add collectively will warrant our partnership and enable us do to things we could not do by ourselves.

The majority of our research is conducted by Whittaker Analytics, staffed by a well-educated team in Kathmandu, Nepal. Nepal is in the Himalayan Mountains located between India on the south and China on the north.