A Taste of Talent Development: Loving BR
To support a workforce that satisfies employer demand and to position the Baton Rouge Area favorably for economic growth, BRAC executes a variety of initiatives to cultivate the region’s talent. The talent development program focuses on two aspects – recruitment and retention of talented professionals in the nine-parish region.
In a recent Advocate article, Christina Stephenson argues that, “No, Baton Rouge isn’t New Orleans or Lafayette, but can we relax the BR bashing a bit?” And to that, we say AMEN! She took the words right out of my mouth. In the column that is garnering a lot of shares and likes on social media, she points out that BTR has issues that we should fix but that no place in the world has reached perfection. So why can’t there be more love for our own community? As Stephenson puts it, “It’s trite, but true: no one’s going to love you until you love yourself, Baton Rouge.”
I genuinely love this city and our community. I love it so much that I chose to come back here after I finished graduate school. And I am a self-proclaimed, proud sunshine pumper for Baton Rouge. It is quite literally my job to help Baton Rouge companies recruit and retain top talent to the area. Our talent development team offers tours of the area for out-of-market candidates. These tours are so successful that we’ve maintained a 93 percent job offer acceptance rate the past five years after candidates go on a tour and then are offered a job. This goes to show how much the community and job go into the decision-making process for candidates.
During these tours, our guides quickly get to know the candidate, learning more about what’s important to them, how they spend their free time and what matters most in choosing their next home. We get to experience Baton Rouge through their eyes, and I’d like to share some top reactions I hear firsthand while recruiting candidates.
Fast Friends & Open Opportunities
The first comment I hear from prospective candidates is how friendly Baton Rouge is. It has all the amenities of a bigger community but retains the genuine friendliness of a smaller community. People say hi to each other and almost always open the door for the person behind them. When I take a candidate to coffee or inside a location during a tour, they almost always comment how nice everyone is. These tours aren’t staged, and I don’t warn people ahead of time – Baton Rougeans just really are that friendly. It is in our nature to be nice.
If you possess the desire to be part of the community, Baton Rouge is a fairly easy place to meet people and make friends. There are dozens of clubs, organizations and ways to get involved. If you see a gap in what we have to offer, Baton Rouge is also ripe with opportunities for entrepreneurs and community change agents alike.
This is another no-brainer for us, but newcomers are almost always surprised by how green and pretty Baton Rouge is. When I take them for a tour, I make sure to show off our award-winning park system and green spaces. They can’t get over how lovely the oak trees are and how it is green almost all year long. Don’t get me wrong, it is hotter than hot down here in the summer (and most of fall), but we have enough air-conditioned places, splash pads and snowball stands to make it work. The trade is we don’t have to worry about blizzards and shoveling snow.
Life of the Party
Newcomers are generally floored at our penchant for celebration, no matter the reason. Oh, you’re getting married – let’s party! Got a raise – wanna dance? You got a good deal on pecans – your pie recipe or mine? Had a good Thursday – another round on me. We love good food and good company, and we love to have a good time no matter the occasion. Prime example – we may have lost a football game or two, but we most definitely have never lost a tailgate. At lunch, we are planning supper. We can’t stand to waste an opportunity to connect with each other and have a good time, and it doesn’t go unnoticed by newcomers who want to have a good time too.
The list of reasons why newcomers are excited to be in Baton Rouge goes on and on… So, the next time you find yourself bemoaning Baton Rouge, perhaps you could try to see it through a newcomer’s eyes and take a dose of Christina’s advice, “…maybe we all need to stop, remember some good stuff about this place, which is both not totally broken and also worth making better.” Love this place and I promise she’ll love you right back.
BRAC is an investor-driven organization leading economic development in the nine-parish Baton Rouge Area. One of BRAC’s strategic goals is to cultivate the region’s talent to meet workforce demands and each month we highlight one of our talent development initiatives. To learn more about our talent development strategies and resources, contact our director of talent development.
Written by Melissa Thompson
Melissa leads all aspects of BRAC’s talent development program, including talent attraction and retention. She works in partnership with universities and employers to provide services that complement existing human resources recruitment practices.