1. In The Know

Can South Florida’s Talent Ecosystem Feed the Region’s Growth?

  • January 26, 2018
  • Oz Rashid
  • CEO
ecosystem

Talent ecosystems across the world vary dramatically from region to region. Comparing the landscape of New York City to a rural Oklahoma area, for example, is like comparing a rainforest to a desert—each ecosystem is faced with unique dynamics and challenges. Understanding how the different economies, talent demographics, business profiles, and cultures all work together within various regions plays a critical role in helping businesses determine either where to take root, or expand their operations.

In this blog, we’re taking a deep dive into the South Florida talent ecosystem—shedding light on the dynamic factors that shape the way cities ranging from West Palm Beach to South Miami work, and unveiling strategies for companies to attract and retain the best talent in the area.

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The startup market in South Florida is booming. In fact, the Kaufman Foundation recently listed Miami-Fort Lauderdale as the top metro area for startup activity. More small businesses are opening here than anywhere else in the country.

Yet when it comes to scaling up those startups, the region is falling behind. While both the economy and talent landscape have progressed positively, you will still find that there is more opportunity and overall talent in contemporary markets like Atlanta, Dallas, Seattle, New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

I’ll cite some familiar names to further the point. Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, is from Miami. So is Sheryl Sandberg, formerly of Google and now COO of Facebook. Jason Baptiste, founder of Onswipe, graduated from University of Miami, and then left to take the company to New York City.

What Gives? 

Why are large, global corporations going elsewhere? Is it the “beach mentality”? Does the South Florida economy lack the infrastructure to support growing businesses? Do we, as a professional community, have the resources and focus in place to not only keep talented individuals in this market, but also to attract them from elsewhere?

When it comes down to it, we’re faced with a bit of a chicken and the egg question. Is there a lack of large businesses because of a lack of quality talent, or vice versa?

The lack of quality talent in the South Florida market is a topic I hear a lot about. What I think it boils down to is the fact that large organizations thrive in environments that can feed their need for talent with a strong pipeline of university graduates. And if you ask me, that’s an area where South Florida could use some improvement. The South Florida region doesn’t have a Harvard or Columbia nearby—schools that churn out top talent every semester to metro areas such as Philadelphia, Boston, NYC, and Chicago. FIU, UM, and FAU are good schools, but lack the sheer numbers and areas of specialization that some of the aforementioned schools have, and without that access, South Florida is at a significant disadvantage.

So, without going down a rabbit hole on education in South Florida, what can we do to make sure the great minds within the region don’t leave for seemingly greener pastures? Similarly, how do we better attract some of the best and brightest from the bigger, more competitive markets?

It comes down to two things: aggressive relocation strategies and the further advancement of employee development/retention strategies.

Relocation Strategies

Miami has no shortage of strengths. For starters, there’s no state income tax, and the diversity, culture, and weather here can’t be beat. Things like easy access to international locations and a wide range of local suppliers and vendors are just a few of the many reasons why the South Florida market makes perfect sense for someone looking for a career change.

Companies that are proactive in their relocation offerings—those that recruit nationally and invest in strategic talent acquisition will have the competitive edge in this tight talent market.

I am proud to say that in the last five years, MSH has successfully relocated 120 people to the Miami area. We brought them from top tier companies such as companies such as GE, Kraft, Amazon, and Microsoft and with degrees from reputed institutions such as Cornell, Harvard, and the University of Chicago.

To achieve this success in relocating best-in-class candidates requires a commitment to investing in a robust relocation strategy. This strategy might involve partnering with local real estate teams and providing “Welcome to Florida” packages. The goal is to provide tons of information for candidates as they consider not only a career change, but also a life change by moving to a different state entirely.

Attracting top talent to the South Florida region can be done—it just takes a plan, an open mind, and the right partner.


Employee Development/Retention Strategies

Another key way to make the most of the South Florida talent market is keeping and growing the “rock star” talent that a company currently has. The type of talent that comes in and makes an immediate impact with new ideas, or the loyal employees who have a track record of promotion and advancement. These are the people who, when you find them, are worth their weight in gold in terms of the tangible impact they can have on both the company culture and bottom line.

But what makes this great talent so great? Odds are that at some point in the course of their career, these A+ resources had a mentor take them under their wing, or they worked for a company that invested in the growth of their skill sets. This development is what makes them so valuable, and should be a lesson to others in the market.

As employers, it’s critical to invest in developing your workforce. Not only will this increase retention, but it will also increase the impact employees bring to the organization, providing them with valuable skills they will need as the business ebbs and flows with the market.

Let’s Elevate the South Florida Talent Market Together

It’s our responsibility, as HR and talent acquisition professionals, to ensure that this South Florida startup boom is sustainable, especially as large organizations, such as Amazon, begin to realize the true value this region holds as a business community. The talent to support the region’s growth exists, we just need to make sure we are maximizing our relocation and retention efforts—both areas in which MSH excels. To further the conversation and learn about all the ways MSH can help your organization build a competitive workforce, contact us today at info@talentmsh.com.  


MSH is an industry-leading talent solutions firm, providing strategic talent acquisition and consulting services to organizations around the world. Established in 2011, MSH aligns people, processes, and technology with overall business objectives. 

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