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Intentional Placemaking is Key to Attracting and Retaining Talent

December 9, 2022

Tami Door, Chief Executive Officer of Q Factor, took the stage at the MichAuto Summit to share her expertise on how to strategically transform cities into destinations that catch the attention of the future workforce.  

Same Formula, Different Results 

As the former President and Chief Executive Officer of the Downtown Denver Partnership, Door has experience in transforming cities into desirable locations to live, work, and play. When she first arrived in Denver in 2005, companies were leaving in droves because for every one person joining the workforce, two were leaving.  

With millennials projected to make up 75% of the workforce by 2030, it is essential that cities are strategic and intentional about building spaces that are attractive to them. She proposed the concept of a “live/work city” that would be solely focused on catering to the social and career needs of young professional ages 20-34 years old. She described it as “a college campus, but just for living.” Because talent tends to first seek an attractive place to live and then find work in that city, cities must invest in creating strong neighborhoods that are walkable, safe, full of amenities, and offer good transportation options. 

Door and her team set themselves apart from other states trying to solve similar problems by creatively tailoring their plans to this future workforce. They began by studying the media they consumed growing up that set their expectations for post-college life, then built that for them with the mantra, “if you build it, they will come.”  

Gamify Talent Attraction 

Door recommended that we “gamify talent attraction” by providing incentives for universities and companies that develop and retain talent in Michigan. Door said, “I believe that higher education has a responsibility to place their graduates within the state,” adding that by their nature of being publicly funded, they are accountable to the public to bolster the state’s economy and companies. She proposed that the distribution of their funding should correlate to how many of their graduates stay in the state. 

Every City is Struggling 

Following her keynote, Door continued the conversation about building a talent magnet with Lisa Lunsford, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of GS3 and Board Chair of MichAuto. They focused on the importance of creating spaces that facilitate “spontaneous collisions” where many different industries and demographics can organically cross paths to share ideas and ultimately innovate. Having worked in Detroit before moving to Denver in 2005, Door also reflected on her perception of Denver as being lightyears ahead of Detroit at the time. She shared that when she arrived, she was proven wrong. She concluded that “every single city in the country is struggling,” with each having at least one major component broken, solid, or excelling at any given time. 

This session was sponsored by CGI Technologies and Solutions.