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Rebuilding Hope: Strategies to Employ After Losing a Major Employer

08 August 2023

As many communities have in the past, it was announced recently that our community will be losing a major employer in the coming months. This loss will be profound as it impacts 15-20% of the workforce throughout the County. Make no mistake, losing a major employer can be devastating for an entire community. It not only results in job losses but also affects local economies, morale, and overall well-being.


That said, I am a firm believer in playing the hand one is dealt. We have a choice, we can look forward, or we can continue to look backward.  These types of moments will determine what a community is made of.  It can be a defining moment in a community’s history where everyone reaches back and does their individual part to make a difference. And yes, we all will ultimately have an impact on determining what this outcome will be.


I believe the #1 thing each resident can do is to think locally. Losing 15-20% of the workforce can equate to that same 15-20% impact on our overall economy or financial well-being of the community if we do nothing. But if each of us commits to spend an additional 15-20% more with local businesses, in lieu of online or out of town, during this time of need, we can one citizen at a time, replace the financial impact on the local business base. That would be huge!


In times of crisis, strong community bonds are crucial. Leaders, chambers and businesses, local governments, and residents must come together to discuss the situation openly, share ideas, and work collaboratively towards a common goal. Open communication channels promote transparency and foster a sense of solidarity among community members.


It is a great time to collaborate on our overall reliance on large employers. Over-reliance on a single employer is usually the biggest reason for significant setbacks. To ensure future resilience in the face of adversity, communities must focus on diversifying their local economy. Encouraging entrepreneurship and supporting small businesses can create a robust economic ecosystem that is less vulnerable to sudden shocks.


It is a great time to reevaluate our educated and skilled workforce.  The community should invest in education and skill development programs, aligning them with emerging industries and technologies. This will not only create more employable individuals but fosters a culture of innovation. The trades are a great place to start and yield faster impact.


It is a great time to actively promote themselves to potential investors and employers. This can be achieved by offering incentives such as tax breaks, infrastructure development, or access to a skilled workforce. Collaborating with regional development agencies and participating in industry-specific events can also increase visibility and attract new opportunities. When communities lose larger employers, often the government and grant floodgates open wide.


During the transition, it is vital to provide support to those who have lost their jobs. Establishing counseling services, job training programs, and financial aid can help individuals regain their footing. Additionally, creating a support network can boost morale and inspire community members to explore new possibilities.


Investing in infrastructure improvements and enhancing the overall quality of life can make the community more appealing to both businesses and individuals. Upgrading transportation, healthcare facilities, recreational spaces, and public amenities can attract new residents and foster economic growth.


Rebranding the community as an attractive destination for business and leisure is essential. Develop a compelling marketing strategy that highlights the unique aspects of the area, its potential, and the diverse opportunities it offers. Utilize digital platforms and social media to reach a broader audience.


Yes, all the above take time, resources and more.  The road to recovery after losing a major employer is undoubtedly challenging, but it is not insurmountable. By embracing change, fostering collaboration, and implementing strategic initiatives, communities can bounce back and emerge even stronger. The key lies in diversification, attracting new industries, supporting the workforce, and cultivating a sense of hope for the future. With resilience, perseverance, and forward-thinking leadership, communities can overcome adversity and build a brighter tomorrow.


John Newby is a nationally recognized Columnist, Speaker, & Publisher. He consults with Chambers, Communities, Business & Media. His “Building Main Street, not Wall Street,” column appears in 60+ newspapers and media outlets. As founder of Truly-Local, he assists chambers, communities, media, and businesses in creating synergies that build vibrant communities. He can be reached at: John@Truly-Local.org.