Researched & written by: Francesca Jarosz Brady & Nicole Bieker

Seattle has become known as a “talent magnet” for its ability to attract educated residents from across the country to fill jobs at companies like Amazon and Microsoft. But how good is Seattle at growing its own talent – in other words, creating opportunity for city residents who lack the skills needed for today’s workforce, but represent a huge pool of unleashed potential?

This is among the topics we’ll explore on LEX by taking a hard look at what Seattle is doing well and where it’s falling short in terms of homegrown talent. We’ll also contrast what’s underway in Seattle with the experience in Indianapolis, which has less of a magnetic pull when it comes to talent and – perhaps as a result – has put forth a strong effort to build the homegrown workforce. Here are just two examples of what’s underway in the Circle City:

  • At the K-12 level, Indianapolis is driving a robust strategy for improving center-city public schools through a partnership of the Indianapolis Public Schools district, the Indianapolis Mayor’s Office and nonprofit groups such as The Mind Trust.  This includes creating more schools with the conditions needed for success, such as school-level autonomy and accountability for results, and ensuring those schools have the educators and community support needed to thrive.

  • In the postsecondary realm, Employ Indy offers workforce services to “opportunity youth,” typically defined as 18- to 24-year-olds who have no high school diploma and multiple barriers to employment.  Among Employ Indy’s initiatives is Project Indy, through which community organizations, employees and corporate partners provide summer job opportunities, soft skills and job readiness training to up to 2,000 young adults. The effort is powered by a mobile app that helps connect eligible teens with jobs.

Where is Seattle leading and lagging in homegrown talent? And what can Indianapolis learn from these efforts as we work to become more of a talent hub?

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