Talent Dividend Work

Collaboration across competing MSAs

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When $1 million is at stake, you might expect grandstanding and one-upmanship between neighboring MSAs competing for the Talent Dividend Prize. But in Florida's Tampa Bay region, where three metro areas are in the running -- Bradenton, Lakeland, and Tampa -- that's just not the case. 
The Tampa Bay Partnership, the region's economic development organization, has been working with all three Talent Dividend competitors to support the competition, organize local advisory councils, and track regional data for each MSA. 
"The Partnership is all about growing the regional economy," says Elisa DeGregorio, Senior Vice President of Operations and Strategic Direction for the Tampa Bay Partnership. "We work on business attraction and expansion, but looking at college attainment and the whole workforce pipeline is also really important to what we do here." 
With all of Florida's Talent Dividend cities concentrated in the Tampa Bay super-region (which includes Orlando), Tampa Bay Partnership saw the chance to create a competitive advantage by developing strategies to increase the percentage of degree holders in the region. 
Local marketing firm ChappellRoberts joined forces with the Tampa Bay Partnership to create Graduate Tampa Bay, an online resource hub for those who want to finish their degrees. The site includes success stories from students area community colleges and universities, resources for financial aid, learning services, and non-academic assistance like transportation and child care, and guidance for making a plan to complete. 
Each competing city in the Tampa Bay region has its own locally-focused efforts and independent plans in place, many of which predate the Talent Dividend Prize. But the opportunity to come together as a region to work toward a common goal has catalyzed some promising developments. 
Polk State College, for instance, learned about the benefits of reverse transfer agreements for degree completion after Hillsborough Community College implemented its own reverse transfer agreement. Now Polk State is exploring how to make it happen. 
"It became a broader effort, rather than a one-by-one initiative," says DeGregorio. 
Long-term, Tampa Bay Partnership sees achieving the Talent Dividend as one step toward improving the skilled workforce pipeline for the entire region. Those efforts will also inclue attracting and retaining talent to supply Tampa Bay's employers.
"We are building relationships in the region and aligning with an entire workforce development effort," DeGregorio says. "Curriculum and programs are aligning with industry needs, and we're all working together to support that. The Talent Dividend probably wasn't the only thing that kicked it off, but we needed that cement toward the common 1% point goal. Everybody could latch on to that. And the $1 million prize generated a lot of enthusiasm, too."

Source: Elisa DeGregorio, Tampa Bay Partnership
Writer: Amy Elliott Bragg

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