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QUINCY — The Great River Economic Development Foundation (GREDF) touted its Quincy Calling campaign as it hosted its annual meeting Tuesday night.

About 100 people attended the meeting. GREDF is funded 65 percent by private business and 35 percent by public money.

Ashley Conrad talks to GREDF President/CEO Kyle Moore about the event. Bob Gough also chats with the keynote speaker, Dan Seals of Intersect Illinois.

Transcript of Moore’s remarks:

“I hope you will leave here at the end of the night with three things:  First, a better understanding of how GREDF can help you or your business overcome an obstacle or grow. Second, how GREDF is working on behalf of our community to simplify and execute a long-term plan for economic growth. Third, how the State of Illinois is working to attract new and growing industries to our diversify and grow our economy.

All of us here tonight have heard the term “Worker shortage” ad nauseum over the past year. In fact you may have heard it so many times you begin to tune it out because you don’t think there’s a way out.

Since August of 2021, 142 families have decided to answer Quincy’s call, moving from 30 states and regions from across the United States and also one family moved from Australia! Those 142 families are working for 80 different employers and average 2.3 individuals per households. The Quincy’s Calling campaign should be heralded as there are few communities who have developed a talent attraction program that has led to such measurable results. We’re not just tracking who is moving into our community, we’re having conversations with them on what led them here, what were their challenges, and this year we will be talking to those families wo decided not to stay so we can get to the “why?”

But we’re not just resting on our laurels with our previous campaign. In 2023 we will be launching a fresh batch of stories to help promote out region. First, we’re going to tell the story of a family who moved here from Colorado and has loved the many outdoor activities our region has to offer.

This Quincy’s Calling Campaign is not just for our region, it is for you to use in your business to go alongside your efforts to attract the best talent to your company. The GREDF team can visit with your HR team to help integrate Quincy’s Calling material into your job offer packets, to give you compelling videos about the lifestyle in Quincy to send to a perspective candidate. And while we’re there we’re also happy to talk to you about how companies outside of our area are working to attract new talent. For an example, the Gen Z generation will soon make up over 30 percent of our workforce and according to a 2022 survey from LinkedIn, 72 percent of that generation is most likely to either have left or considering leaving a job because their employer did not offer a flexible work schedule? But companies like Sodexo, have found success attracting Gen Zers, through their FLOW program, allowing employees when they are hired to work with their managers on an individual basis to craft a flexible schedule from their start date to meet each employee’s unique needs.

Working to attract the best and brightest will do us no good, if we don’t have a plan to keep them here. The staff at the Great River Economic Development Foundation is here your company stay up to date on what your company can offer to help keep your employees happy. There are many programs at the federal to local level for you to tap into. For an example we all know college debt repayment is a hot topic nationwide. Did you know there is a federal program available for employers to make tax-exempt loan repayment contribution to their employees up to $5,250 a year until 2025? If you didn’t know about it, talk to us at GREDF and we can connect you into the program. Our Quincy YMCA offers a “Corporate Wellness Program” to help local companies offer a wellness benefit to their employees. And if you are one of our small businesses here today competing to attract talent, but seem to get not be able to offer a benefit package like even those seen at national fast food chains, talk to us about the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit which helps small businesses provide healthcare coverage for their employees.

Even if you don’t need none of those things, we hope you know about our Quincy Concierge Program, which is available to every one of our members. If you have an employee who recently moved to town, reach out to the staff at GREDF. Through our concierge program we can give them a tour of Quincy from someone with a similar background. We can introduce them to fellow professionals at one of our events. And we can even introduce them to a new friends outside of work. This year we’ve helped newcomers find a doctor for their child with a cleft pallet, we’ve introduced a young professional who moved here her husband from out of state to other people other than her in-laws, and we’ve even helped to arrange a grocery delivery on a family’s first night in Quincy. It’s the little things like a call or a reach out that can make someone feel like home, and all it takes is a call to GREDF to make it happen.

GREDF is also here to work on strengthening our talent pipeline. What does that mean? It means connecting the student, the unemployed, the underemployed, and those job seekers with the many opportunities that are available to them right in their backyard. How do we do this? By engaging future workers where they are, speaking their language and making connections as easy as possible.

One of the ways we do this is through the Tri-State Makerfest bringing over 200 high school students from the Tri-State area to the OLC to get a one-on-one experience on career opportunities with local companies.

The team at GREDF also works with out institutions of learning to set up job shadowing opportunities for student, facility tours for guidance counselors, and in the classroom programing so students can begin career exploration.

We also know a pipeline can be started with many different age groups, skillsets and backgrounds. With that in mind, GREDF partnered with Adams County and Bella Ease to launch the Adams County Empowered Program. This program identifies individuals on probation, who are unemployed or are underemployed, the ability to begin their next career. If an individuals chooses to participate they are eligible for one on one coaching, rides to work, childcare, and many other items to make their career journey easier. This year, we were pleased to receive a grant from the Community Foundation to continue this important work and I am pleased that since the program was launched 84 individuals have been referred to the program with 38 finding employment through the ACE program. This program truly shows what the power of partnership can accomplish.

We know there is a myriad of incentives that are offered to your business by government at every level. It can be confusing and bureaucratic, and we know in your busy schedule you may not have the time to even begin to tap into the resources available to you. So that is where GREDF is here to help. For an example, did you know the Federal Work Opportunity Tax Credit gives employers up to $9,600  per employee if you hire from groups like veterans, ex-felons or food stamp recipients? GREDF staff can help connect you with that program.

We are also there to help with your larger building projects that may require action at the local level, from zoning, local incentives such as the Q-Fund, or Quincy’s Retail Investment programs, we can help you navigate that process, not leave money on the table and make your project become a reality with a little less on your plate.”

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