SARASOTA — The Economic Development Corp. of Sarasota County and Visit Sarasota County have teamed up to attract working talent to the area.
The program, “Work Where You Want to Live” was designed with the intention of filling positions local employers have open.
“At VSC and the EDC we are listening to our local businesses, and they are telling us that, like so many employers around the country, they need help building their workforces,” says Visit Sarasota County President Virginia Haley in a press release. “We know from years of analyzing our visitor and relocation data that people tend to visit here before deciding to move to Sarasota County. Thus, we’re targeting the markets that often send us visitors and providing all of the resources someone would need to find work and settle down.”
Visit Sarasota VP Erin Duggan says they’ve always collaborated with the EDC and other county organizations to ensure they’re doing everything they can to attract visitors and businesses to the area.
Around a year and a half to two years ago, the EDC and Visit Sarasota were working together on relocation efforts. Specifically, the organizations targeted groups of people and businesses to come to Sarasota.
“We looked at target markets and where visitors come from,” says Erin Silk, VP of business development services at the EDC.
Through the use of metrics, Duggan says Visit Sarasota is able to pinpoint exactly where visitors are coming from and where they like to visit when they get here. Additionally, the organizations had media assistance from local companies Miles Partnership and Knight Strategic Communications. The companies targeted markets in New York, Chicago, Boston, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and Atlanta through media outreach, branded digital content, digital marketing and paid social media. The visitors are directed to the Visit Sarasota and EDC websites, which provides additional information concerning relocation and a job search tool.
The two organizations began to notice that the majority of new residents had visited before. Through the campaign, they are recording every search. This allows them to monitor what country and state the visitor is from, while also seeing what jobs they may be searching for. For example, there was a site visitor from New Zealand looking for sales jobs.
“We have a strong working relationship with Visit Sarasota,” Silk says. “So, we’re always looking for collaboration opportunities.”
The relocation efforts evolved through 2020 and 2021 to what is now the work where you want to live campaign. Silk says the campaign is an innovative use of the resources in Sarasota County and highlights how innovative the EDC is becoming. At other conferences circling around economic development, Silk hasn’t seen a campaign similar to this.
“Workforce is a huge conversation topic at these conferences,” Silk says. “It’s interesting to see how others are handling it. Hopefully this has a good impact.”
The campaign comes as Visit Sarasota County hit new summer tourism records, and the EDC reported a year of record results.