INDIANAPOLIS – Communities struggling amid the pandemic are looking for ways to revive their local economies. While there’s no easy answer, Lumina Foundation has published an easy-to-grasp guide to developing the knowledge and skills of urban and rural residents with lessons drawn from the success of Talent Hubs across the country.

For the past eight years, Lumina has focused on how communities can keep their workforces strong and competitive in the new talent economy. As work with these Talent Hubs shifts to Indiana-based CivicLab, under the guidance of former Lumina strategy officer Dakota Pawlicki, the lessons have been captured in an online guide. The handbook, “10 Steps To Building Talent,” is a primer of best practices for communities and organizations that want to cultivate local talent by focusing on education and training after high school.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Susan Headden, who immersed herself in the efforts of these unusually committed communities, wrote the 10 Steps guide. Headden, a former staff writer at The Indianapolis Star, worked nearly 16 years at U.S. News & World Report, ultimately serving as a managing editor. She later held senior positions at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Headden is now an independent communications consultant based in Washington, D.C. In that role, she’s written several issues of Lumina’s Focus magazine, including one on the Talent Hubs effort and one on rural students.

Local leaders must act now to identify and cultivate their homegrown talent if they want to thrive and grow.

“This guide captures what we’ve learned from working with these leading-edge communities,” said Pawlicki, CivicLab’s Talent Hubs director. “Local leaders must act now to identify and cultivate their homegrown talent if they want to thrive and grow.”

Among the 10 Steps suggested in the guide – all based on lessons learned from the 26 Talent Hub communities that Kresge Foundation helped support – are these: create cross-sector partnerships, develop flexible models of delivery, align workers and employers, and commit to racial justice and equity.

“Communities coming back from the devastating effects of the pandemic cannot afford to spend millions on tax incentives to lure new businesses,” said Jamie Merisotis, Lumina’s president and CEO. “By adopting these steps, they can have stronger, sustainable futures.”

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