April 30, 2003
News Conference - Good Move London
Wednesday, April 30, 2003
London, ON - You may be aware that in the last two to three years, London has been very successful in attracting many new businesses to our city. Seven new companies landed in London last year, bringing with them over 13 hundred jobs and investing $94 million. 45 existing companies invested a total of $390 million in expansion, creating over 350 new jobs. This year, you've already heard London was selected by Brose, Intier and Budd Systems, in total investing over $100 million and creating almost 500 new jobs. And growth is expected to continue. The Conference Board of Canada has predicted that this year, London will be the third fastest growing economy in Ontario…and sixth fastest is Canada. As our business community grows our biggest challenge will be meeting the need for skilled workers. It's not a new challenge but it is becoming increasingly critical. In recent years, we received a growing number of requests from companies and organizations who wanted to use LEDC's promotional materials to help sell the city to prospective workers they were recruiting to move London. We had a similar request from the London Health Sciences Centre. In the past when the hospitals recruited physicians, they relied heavily on personal networks and word of mouth to recruit the brightest and best. It worked very well for a long time, but - no longer. Today, to attract medical talent, LHSC and St. Joe's have found they need to really promote the benefits of living in London and the quality of life here is a big part of that. They asked for our help. Thus, "Good Move London" was born. The LEDC has been pleased to lead the charge on this project, and provide the funding, but we have had great partners. We are delighted that the London Public Library has chosen to be such a big part of this initiative. My thanks to Bill Irwin and Pat Tripp for all their work and assistance.
There are a number of other "Good Move London" partners: The London Health Sciences Centre and St. Joes - Roland Kriening has been our contact for both hospitals; the City of London - Lou Anne Oldenhoff of the HR department has been most helpful; Members of Human Resources Professionals - London District; McCormick Canada represented by Fred Fretz; And Richard Westin of Westin Management Services.
Our experience assisting McCormick was a big part of development of "Good Move London."
Fred Fretz, VP HR with McCormick Canada tells their story about attracting employees to London. "In January 2002, McCormick Canada announced a plant consolidation that would involve moving 60 manufacturing jobs from Mississauga to London. Our ideal situation would be to fill all 60 with relocated employees. We sought assistance from the LEDC in organizing "Beautiful London Tours" for the employees and their families. LEDC assisted in collecting information and arranging guest speakers to cover the topics the employees said they needed before making the decision to relocate. Topics included: housing, education, recreation, job opportunities for spouses, shopping and a physical tour of the city. As a result of these efforts, we were able to relocate enough employees to fill over half of the open positions. What the exercise identified though is that we do have a great deal of information available, and wonderful resources such as the public library and library staff, but we did not have a well assembled package that companies and organizations could readily access. The "Good Move, London" website and materials does all of that and more, plus it also allows individuals to research what London has to offer on their own. McCormick Canada is proud to have taken part in the development of this new program, and we commend the LEDC for their leadership in this project and the help they have given us over the last 1 ½ years."
While working with McCormick, we also sent a survey to HR professionals in London, asking them a number of questions: How they currently promote London to potential candidates...what kind of things are most important to those they recruit...what they use as selling points for our city...the resources they use in recruiting...and whether they would feel it would be helpful to have a presentation kit, website and someone available on a phone line to answer questions. This exercise taught us what is important to people when they're considering a move. It is access to information about their particular concerns and each person's needs are very different. While we would like to be able to put together a customized package for each person who is considering a move to London…that is just too time-consuming. We think that what we have developed will offer many of the same benefits. "Good Move London" is really three components - each important. The first is our information or presentation folders as you see before you. The folders, which companies will be able to pick up at any library branch in London (at no charge), will contain just two pieces of material - the London Visitor Guide and a city map. The folder will direct them to the other two "Good Move London" components - the website and a toll-free number. The web site allows individuals to go on line and search for information on what is of value and importance to them. By the way, Hall Associates designed the presentation folders and their web design company, Hall Interactive put the website together. I'd also like to thank Richard Bain, one of London's well known photographers for donating his photographs to us. You can see the site is clean and simple to follow. Only a small amount of the information is actually on our website. It is really a consolidated portal that leads to many other web sites where surfers can find information on everything from housing and schools to pools and ballroom dancing. A really nice touch in the design is the photos. If a person visits the site in the evening, they find an evening shot of London. If they visit in the day, it's a day shot. Little things like that help keep the site looking fresh. As you can imagine, the website has many advantages over brochures and other written material: It is of course far more economical because we won't be printing reams of material; It allows people to search and read material at their convenience; It allows for regular updates and addition of material; It can be accessed from links that we expect will be found on literally dozens of websites in London; And it's easy to maintain. For companies or organization that post available positions on their website, we'd be thrilled if you would link to the Good Move, London website. Just contact me and we'll send you the logo which you can use as the hot link button. Companies looking to attract good people will, of course, still need to bring prospective employees in to see our City. Clearly, the personal touch still needs to be there, but now individuals can, on their own time do their search, pulling off just the information that is important to them.
The third component I mentioned of course, is the 800 number, which can be used by callers who can't find what they need on the website. They get connected to the library where they can speak with a real person who can answer any specific questions that they may still have about our city or point them in the right direction. The toll-free number is an essential part of Good Move London. It is that live human being, available to answer questions, that says, "we care." If there is one thing that I've learned through this process, it is how much people appreciate being courted. In working with McCormick, the hospitals and with UWO on their Family Medicine Recruitment Initiative, we kept hearing over and over again… "You've really gone out of your way to promote the city and to help me!"
For our part at LEDC, we have been pleasantly surprised at how many people are willing to help and support this initiative -- people who are happy to work together as part of a team to sell London and attract a new skilled workforce.
Roland Kriening, Medical Affairs, London Health Sciences Centre and St. Joseph's Health Care discusses the recruitment efforts of London hospitals and how Good Move, London will help them reach their objectives. "As in many industries, healthcare faces enormous challenges in recruiting professionals. Our reach must be global and we must have innovative tools to support us. In health care, many potential recruits are lost due to the fact that they cannot access information about a new community and its resources. In recent years we have come to realize that the recruitment process does not begin and end with the recruits themselves. More and more we see the need to recruit the family. In doing so we need to provide up to date and relevant information about the community, its resources and more importantly its benefits. Although many employers including London Hospitals have tried to compile and present information about this community, nothing can compare to what is being presented today. Good Move, London will provide the London Health Care system with a valuable tool that we can use to attract professionals nationally and globally." The LEDC has invested approximately $20,000 to get this up and running.
Our mandate on this project is to help local companies be successful by attracting the skilled people they need. We believe that this is a reasonable investment that will pay big dividends in the future. Again, my thanks to the committee that has worked with us over the last year to pull this program together. We look forward to your input on how we can make it even better."
For more information, Ms. Lesley Cornelius, Director Marketing and Communications, London Economic Development Corporation, (519) 661-4545