Cleveland County, North Carolina Targets Millennials with New Manufacturing Talent Attraction Campaign

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Charlotte's Backyard NC website promotes multiple factors that millennials consider when relocating: diverse manufacturing careers, lucrative salaries, ideal location, outdoor recreational assets and affordable housing.

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I moved to Cleveland County from Tuscon, Arizona and soon realized that even though the pace of life here is slower, there is still a real energy and vibrancy. I love how Charlotte's Backyard NC authentically reflects the essence of our community.

Cleveland County Economic Development Partnership (CCEDP) has a message that they want to share with millennials across the country: Whether you’re new to the manufacturing industry, a seasoned pro, or even have zero experience - Cleveland County, North Carolina has more than 170 manufacturing companies who are hiring for a diverse array of careers - and they are interested in talking to YOU.

Cleveland County has undoubtedly been one of the most successful rural communities in North Carolina, as it relates to manufacturing relocations and expansions and new job growth. In fact, since 2008, more than 75 companies have either relocated or expanded their operations in this location, which equate to a combined total committed investment of over $6 billion dollars and 4,000 new jobs. As a result of this success, the community’s unemployment rate has plummeted from double to single digits, and now Cleveland County bears the prestigious distinction of being ranked as Site Selection Magazine’s #4 Top Micropolitan in the United States. Recognizing how a low unemployment rate could be perceived by many as the community not having a sufficient pool of skilled labor, Cleveland County wants to prove to their existing manufacturing companies and Site Location Consultants who represent new economic development projects, that they have a strategic plan in place to fuel and strengthen the manufacturing talent pipeline in their community.

Over the last year, CCEDP collaborated with local manufacturers, local government officials, educational partners and a variety of additional stakeholders to develop a creative, strategic and wide-reaching new multi-media Talent Attraction Campaign, Charlotte’s Backyard NC. The campaign and its new website, was formally launched today at the 2017 Making it Work: Manufacturing and Engineering Fair, which included hundreds of local manufacturers, high school students and teachers. The project will primarily target the millennial workforce and showcase to them the many reasons why Cleveland County is a wonderful location to find a lucrative manufacturing career, while they can also enjoy the benefits of the community’s close proximity to Charlotte and Asheville, wonderful quality life, and affordable cost of living.

Kristin Reese, Executive Director of CCEDP stated that, “The development of this campaign was something that we became convinced that we needed in order to position our community in a way that would strategically connect millennial talent to the manufacturing careers in our community. We’re witnessing a mass exodus of baby-boomers in the manufacturing sector who are now retiring or contemplating retirement in the near future. Millennials now represent the largest percentage of the US population, and by 2020 they are expected to represent the largest percentage of the US workforce. This generation could be a huge asset to companies who need new workers as a result of an expansion, or for others who are trying to fill the vacancies left by the baby-boomers. Charlotte is projected to have the highest rate of millennial growth in the nation, and so by leveraging and strategically marketing our close proximity to that growing city, we feel it will help to fuel Cleveland County’s talent pipeline. It’s a significant value proposition that we are sharing with people – work here, live here and take advantage of all of the conveniences of having larger cities nearby – but, because of the affordable cost of living and relaxed vibe of our smaller community, we guarantee your paycheck will go further and your overall quality of life will be enhanced.”

The Charlotte’s Backyard NC website has been designed to include rich content and strives to not only function as a resource for people who are evaluating relocation possibilities, but to also make Cleveland County residents aware of the manufacturing career opportunities that exist in their own backyard. The site includes a “Find a Career” search engine and profiles an array of local manufacturers and their employees. A few additional aspects of the site are that you can explore Cleveland County communities and learn more about what makes them special, as well as read up on local musical events and entertainment, hiking and biking trails – and even peruse a locally curated list of daycation ideas. Nick Wiebelhaus, Plant Manager of Greenheck, who also served on the task force that spearheaded the talent attract campaign said “I moved to Cleveland County from Tuscon, Arizona and soon realized that even though the pace of life here is slower, there is still a real energy and vibrancy. I’ve also realized the benefit of the low cost of living, and I appreciate how Charlotte’s Backyard NC authentically reflects the essence of what makes our community so great - and why people like me enjoy working and living here.”

CCEDP has retained the expertise of Development Counsellors International (DCI), a leader in economic development and tourism marketing who not only managed the development of the Charlotte’s Backyard NC brand, marketing and website development efforts, but also initially provided the organization with compelling national statistics and survey data relative to millennials and what factors play into their relocation decisions. CCEDP is also currently working with Little Red Bird on the campaign’s advertising and video production strategies, which will be fully launched in January 2018. The investigative analysis performance by both DCI and Little Red Bird were an integral component of the business case that was developed by CCEDP for the talent attraction campaign. Those findings were then subsequently tied into some of the key marketing and advertising messages of the campaign:

  • Top Millennial Mecca Meets Small-Town Charm: More millennials are moving to Charlotte than anywhere else in the world, according to a 2017 study from SmartAsset. In Cleveland County, you’ll tap into all the benefits that are drawing that generation to this area, without the high cost or stress of living in a major metropolitan area. Add to that a healthy dose of Southern hospitality and small-town charm and you won’t want to live anywhere else.
  • Good Careers for all Kinds of People: Whether you are new to the manufacturing industry, a seasoned pro, or have zero experience – there are manufacturing opportunities available. Cleveland County companies offer competitive health insurance, paid time off, performance-based incentives and tuition reimbursement.
  • More for Your Paycheck: Manufacturing workers in the US earn an average 18% higher than those in non-manufacturing industries. In 2016, the average advanced manufacturing wage in Cleveland County was $54,860.

Low Cost of Living and Affordable Housing: With a cost of living that is 15% lower than the national average, you can have more money in your pocket to spend on the things, and people, you love. The cost of housing in Cleveland County is 49% lower than the national average, which means you can save on rent, or buy a house without breaking the bank.

  • A Daytripper’s Paradise: Bustling cities, world-class theaters, mountains, beaches and hiking trails – all of these and more are either in Cleveland County, or just a stone’s throw away. There’s something for the outdoor adventurer, culture connoisseur, shopping enthusiast and foodie in all of us – all in less than an hour’s travel by car in Cleveland County.

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Kristin Reese
since: 01/2009
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Cleveland County Economic Development Partnership
since: 03/2009
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