Workforce recruitment, training, hiring in full gear for 2020

North Alabama Homebuilding Academy preparing people to work in homebuilding industry

By Claire Aiello, Vice President, Marketing & Communications and Katelyn Sides Baker, Workforce Recruitment Director

In our December issue, we explained the findings of an extensive labor study recently conducted by Deloitte. Companies in our three-county region (Madison, Morgan & Limestone) report they plan to hire 14,000 people over the next three years, which will stimulate an additional 11,000 support jobs. We can fill some of these with our local talent pool, but the bottom line is, we must attract more people to the area.

“We need to ramp up a moonshot effort to get people interested to move to this region,” said Darin Buelow, global location strategy leader for Deloitte. He was referencing the focus leading up to NASA’s 1969 moonshot. The challenge is issued.

Opportunity lies ahead, and the name of the game is recruiting. We must make sure people know that the Tennessee Valley region is a great place to live, work, play, and stay.

We’re already doing things to move the needle – here’s what these include:

SXSW® 2020
We’re taking the approach we’ve used at trade shows, marketing Huntsville to companies, to talk with some of the world’s brightest creators about the Rocket City. We’ll be in Austin, Texas from March 15-19 at South by Southwest®. This annual conference brings together innovators, creators and developers from all over the world, and we want to make sure they are all aware of everything Huntsville has to offer. If your company is attending, please feel free to stop by our booth! We’ll be featuring some great giveaways that will give people the chance to see Huntsville for themselves.

asmartplace® on the Road to Auburn University last fall

Aggressive College Recruiting Schedule
We will also be visiting several colleges this year, and companies, you should join us! Our asmartplace® on the Road college recruiting trips look different than a normal career fair. We work closely with the college to make it an all-Huntsville event. This way, you won’t get lost in the mix of a big career day.

We give a presentation about what it is like to live in Huntsville, then you have time to talk with students about internship and career opportunities. We did this same style at asmartplace® on the Road to Auburn University last fall, recruiting business and engineering students.

Some of the colleges we are working with this year include the University of Florida, Auburn University, University of Alabama, Texas A&M University, and Clemson University. College recruiting trips will be officially announced as these events are confirmed.

Military Base Recruiting
Another big initiative this year is to recruit veterans. We have identified a handful of military bases that focus on skills that are in demand, and we’re planning to do recruiting trips similar to the college trips at these bases.

Spaces for companies will be limited for every recruiting trip, so make sure you stay in the know so you don’t miss out on these incredible opportunities. Our weekly Mash-Up newsletter is a great way to learn about these events as soon as we schedule them, so visit to sign up. We also post updates on this website and on

Revamped Coming Soon

Speaking of, we’re in the process of revamping it. This is the website we use to market Huntsville and recruit for jobs. Some of the new enhancements include improved job search functionality, more content about our cost of living and quality of life, as well as information on relocating to the area. The updates will be finished this spring, so keep an eye out!

Available Resources

The Huntsville/Madison County Chamber has created a lot of resources, and we encourage you to use our materials as you recruit. Visit to see the videos we’ve produced recently. These are geared for a variety of audiences, including veterans, young professionals, executives, and spouses.

On our website, we also list the latest rankings and media accolades for Huntsville/Madison County, as well as online versions of our magazine, our annual report and other recent data on job growth that you can use as you recruit.

If you have questions, please reach out and engage with us. Each member of our staff is committed to helping you.

Best Places To Work® Awards

Hiring is important, but so is retention. This year, we will partner with the North Alabama Chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management (NASHRM) to produce our 2020 Wage Survey. We publish this survey to arm you with information to keep your wages competitive. This will start in the second quarter.

Also in partnership with NASHRM, our annual Best Places To Work® Awards, scheduled for April 15, honors member businesses in the Tennessee Valley that create an excellent workplace culture through employee engagement, strong leadership, and communication. Maybe you’ve won in the past, or maybe you haven’t – and you want to get on that stage. We’re working to get data on what our local companies struggle with to help you learn how to improve. All identifying information is kept confidential, but there are some common themes businesses struggle with, and we will plan a training series to help you address these issues.

Also – you can learn from companies that do it well. We’ll plan additional events with the winners, so they can share best practices.

Interns & Young Professionals

Intern Cookout in Cummings Research Park

We’ll host more events for interns and young professionals, as we did in 2019. More than 200 interns attended two cookouts last year in Cummings Research Park. We’re looking for companies to host these – it’s a great chance for you to make a good impression on these bright, young minds, as they consider where they might want to apply in the future. Our Cummings Research Park team also hosts a number of engaging events. For details, see this page.

And we are working on additional ways to help your new recruits get plugged in. The Huntsville/Madison County Chamber is planning an event to educate YPs on all the professional development and extracurricular opportunities they have. If your organization engages with local YPs and would like to be at the event, please contact Katelyn Sides Baker: We’ll announce details about the event soon.

This article appears in the February 2020 issue of Initiatives magazine, a publication of the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber.