EDITORIAL: North Dakota's 'Good Life' campaign is a needed effort to bring workers to the state

Mar. 26—Throughout North Dakota, various groups — the state, communities, industries, development organizations and the like — are working to draw in potential new employees.

What has been missing is an organized infrastructure to better optimize this new and evolving effort at talent attraction, according to Katie Ralston Howe, a director in the workforce division in the state Department of Commerce.

"What's missing ... was a system to actually capture those leads and connect them to residents," Ralston Howe said during a presentation last month to the Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corp.

Meanwhile, thousands of jobs — perhaps as many as 18,000 — remain open statewide, crimping the ability of so many businesses to grow or, in worst-case scenarios, even stay afloat.

With that, North Dakota has reignited its "Find the Good Life" marketing campaign, hoping to provide connections between potential new residents and workforce professionals. New efforts at marketing the state are being coupled with better ways to track data and personal connections with real people who can help produce the best possible outcome.

The idea is similar to the classic sales funnel — a visual tool used by most anyone who has worked in sales.

As an example, Ralston Howe's EDC presentation included a "How We Do It" funnel. At the top — the widest part — of the funnel is "discovery," or the hope that a prospective job candidate/resident in another state sees North Dakota's new marketing campaign. The next level of the funnel is "action" — in this case, the candidate fills out a form to learn more. After that, the system the state is using — called "RoleCall" — delivers targeted content and information. Ideally, the bottom three levels of the funnel see RoleCall distribute candidate names to regional workforce leaders who can then connect with the candidate.

Of course, at the bottom of the funnel, the candidate chooses to move to North Dakota.

"At this point, we can't do nothing," Ralston Howe said during her presentation. "We need to do something to demonstrate that we're making an effort to attract people to the state. This is what employers have been asking for. Not only do we need people to come to our state, we also need people to stay in our state. Every state in the nation is competing for scarce resources."

We agree. The state can't sit idle while jobs remain unfilled. We especially like a few twists in the new approach, specifically providing personal connections with prospective residents. For example, when the system learns someone has an interest in, say, the UAS industry, it will connect those people with "region captains" scattered about the state. In the case of UAS, the candidate likely would be directed to the captain of the Grand Forks region.

This isn't the first time North Dakota has touted "the good life." The state's "Find the Good Life in North Dakota" campaign ran a few years back. Last year, Nebraska — apparently without any interest in learning whether the idea already was taken by another state — unveiled its own "good life" campaign

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Nevertheless, North Dakota's "Find the Good Life" campaign is a needed approach to bring workers to the state. North Dakota cannot just sit idle while development occurs within its borders, but without people to actually staff the positions that the growth will require.