Forstner: Program to help people stay in Austin

Published 4:30 pm Saturday, December 14, 2013

By Sandy Forstner

Austin Chamber of Commerce executive director

Attracting and retaining key employees is critical to the long term success and growth of all business and to our local economy. Competition for these employees is increasing and is expected to further escalate as baby boomers are replaced in the workforce.

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Several employers, particularly those seeking college-educated, professional staff, have repeatedly said that one of their greatest challenges is selling prospective employees on living in Austin. These challenges are often not related to the position offered, but instead to the career of the “trailing spouse” and the interests of other family members.

This issue came into further light last year as part of the work of the Vision 2020 Business Friendly Committee. The committee recommended that a more comprehensive and collaborative effort was necessary to better introduce and connect new residents to our community. The Chamber was selected to lead the effort, and thanks to the financial support of major employers and The Hormel Foundation we are now preparing to unveil AustinWorks.

Modeled after a multi-faceted, highly successful, workforce initiative in Dubuque, Iowa, AustinWorks will have three main components:

•Community concierge. A clearinghouse of information and personalized services, designed to introduce and connect all family members to the community.

•Enhanced employment opportunity systems, including a one-stop AustinWorks website.

•Renewed commitment to students of all ages, seeking pathways to employment and career enhancement.

The first and most important step, HR managers have advised, is to establish concierge-level services. We are now in the process of seeking a person to lead this effort and hope to have them in place by early next year.

The Workforce Relations Coordinator will serve as the primary contact for local employers regarding the recruitment, relocation and retention needs of potential employees. The ideal candidate will possess a robust knowledge of the Austin area and a working knowledge of the local housing market.

Even  more importantly, they will need to be enthusiastic about our community and all it has to offer.

If you or someone you know is interested in selling Austin, introducing new residents to the community, and connecting them to the opportunities we have to offer, then this job is for you.

A complete outline of the position and its responsibilities is listed on the Chamber’s website,, under “employment opportunities.”