Fulton County IDA looks to update local labor market report

FULTON COUNTY The Fulton County Industrial Development Agency in partnership with Winstanley Enterprises is looking to complete an updated labor market analysis for Fulton County, updating the last report completed in 2015.

To complete the new labor market report the FCIDA is asking all businesses in the Fulton County region to complete a confidential survey — available at www.surveymonkey.com/r/JY37VYP — which will ask employers questions about their workforce.

FCIDA Executive Director James Mraz said it’s important for the recruitment of new businesses to Fulton County to have an updated labor market analysis that will show the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ongoing economic recovery and to obtain feedback from local employers on the current state of labor recruitment and retention.

“One of the typical questions we get from a company that is looking to come into the area is ‘what is the status of your labor pool’,” Mraz said. “Companies want to know how far do people drive, what are the technical skills of your workforce, what are the age characteristics, what’s the schooling, what are the wage rates. A whole series of questions.”

Mraz said the 2015 Labor Market Analysis of the Fulton County Region, has been used by the FCIDA as its marketed parcels in the Tryon Technology Park. He said the data was based on years prior to 2015, and needs to be updated.

“So we’re dealing with current data, current circumstances, and so we will have the best available information to give to companies that are asking for that information,” Mraz said.

The FCIDA in November 2021 announced a purchase option agreement with Concord, Massachusetts based commercial real estate developer Winstanley Enterprises to sell the remaining 236 acres of land at the Tryon Technology Park for $5.8 million. Mraz said Winstanley Enterprises has not yet exercised its option to buy the park, but has agreed to partner with the FCIDA in hiring DCG Corplan Consulting LCC from New Jersey to update the labor market report. DCG Corplan was the company that wrote the 2015 version of the report.

“Right now we have a purchase and sale agreement executed with Winstanley Enterprises that basically says they’re the ones out there now marketing Tryon,” Mraz said. “(The FCIDA) is still doing what we can, so if we get an inquiry we would pass it on to Winstanley, the same thing with the Fulton County Center for Regional Growth. So, Winstanley has a vested interest in this information because if they’re asked questions from a prospective company about the labor market they’ll be able to give it.

Mraz said Winstanley has stated its plans for Tryon would include: demolishing the 75,000 square foot former main Tryon administrative building to clear a path for a series of buildings on the land for four “build-to-suit” sites created for companies that want to locate in the Tryon Park, one 900,000 square foot site, one 500,000 square foot site, one 350,000 square foot site and one 150,000 square foot site.

The push for a new labor market analysis is coming amid what has appeared to be a labor shortage locally, with county officials reporting significant reductions in the number of job candidates taking civil service exams and at least several local restaurants either choosing not to open or closing abruptly and siting difficulty with recruiting and maintaining wait and kitchen staff.

Mraz said concerns about a labor shortage were not a factor in deciding to update the 2015 Labor Market Analysis of the Fulton County Region.

“I brought this up to Winstanley about three or four months ago, because we had an inquiry about labor,” Mraz said. “I looked at the labor market analysis, and I printed it out and I just happened to look at the date on the cover, 2015, and I said ‘Holy mackerel, so much has changed, with COVID and this and that and the current labor market. We should update this.’ So, I called Winstanley, and they agreed wholeheartedly, and DCG Corplan and worked out a scope of work. It took three or four months to put it together and the FCIDA (board) finally consented to do it, and we’re moving forward.”

Mraz said he’s hopeful the update to Fulton County’s labor market will be completed in a couple of months. He cautioned that the public should not expect a report that shows the local market to be “good or bad”, but will instead be a neutral statement of facts pertaining to what labor is available locally and of the training programs that exist locally for employers to train-up staff for different job categories. He said it’s also possible the survey of businesses will show that the effective “region” or distance from which Fulton County employers draw workers may have increased in size since the 2015 report.

“Part of what this business survey will get to is how far are people working in Fulton County traveling to get here,” Mraz said. “Are 95% of the businesses here drawing from 20 minutes away, 45 minutes away, an hour and half away? The input that we get from businesses will help define what our labor market really is, and once we define that geographical area DCG Corplan will then go and get all of the census data for that area. The last time we did this we were looking at a labor market area of about a 45 minute drive. I’m curious to see how that changes, will companies say they’ve got people coming in from an hour and 15 minutes away? If so, then OK, our labor market area may have expanded.”

Mraz said the new labor market analysis will be completed before Winstanley Enterprises purchase option for Tryon runs out by the end of this year.

More: All NewsEverything Fulton County

By Jason Subik

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