Think Strategically! Think Big! Think … Omaha???
“Dreams are never destroyed – only rearranged.” – Paul Abram Constantine
Susan Howington of Power Connections articulated something to me a few weeks ago that constitutes a new trend in job search throughout the country. She said to me, “Diane, we have a new situation going on here. Job searchers over 45 are having a hard time finding work, as are job searchers in their 20s right out of college. So, what can we offer the two groups of professionals who are benched due to our economic debacle?”
I recalled that, as I was researching the articles for The Daily Job Hunt blog, my eye had been caught by some reports of “downtown” rebirth in some of our nation’s older, smaller, and admittedly, less “sexy” cities. This rebirth phenomenon is being driven by young people who are graduating colleges and finding that there is no place to go but home – to places like Omaha, Portland, and Orem. Their presence in their home cities is driving a renaissance of an artistic coffee culture, teeming with revitalization and energy. Surprise, surprise! Once again, what’s old is new. As Parts I and II of this “Where the Jobs Are” series revealed, trends are taking us “back to the future.”
This benefits not just the recent college grads – but Americans of all ages and educational levels. We’re all in this together, and need to forge new pathways wherever the opportunities are. A good job has always been the cornerstone for the American Dream.
So, let me tell you where there are jobs right now.
You know, as the John Cougar Mellencamp song goes, “I was born in a small town,” so there is a part of me that derives satisfaction from seeing some of our older, more established cities and towns in America spring back to life. Yes, I’ve worked in New York City, D.C., Dallas, Phoenix, and Orange County, but my roots are Midwestern near the Canadian border in North Dakota, which by the way, is teeming with oil exploration right now.
Brad Briggs, a staff writer for StreetAuthority, reported in a November 2011 Investing Answers that there’s a modern-day boom in my birth state, where it turns out shale oil can now be profitably extracted from the ground. Apparently, in the last four years, it isn’t just jobs in oil exploration and extraction that have popped up, but the need for thousands of workers to help meet the demands of the oil field workers who have moved there. Ward Koeser, the mayor of Williston, North Dakota, told Briggs that the town had between 2,000 and 3,000 job openings, and if you feel inclined to move there, you could probably land one of them in one day to one week’s time. Don’t take my word for it! You can read Brad’s article at The ONE Place in America Where Jobs are Plentiful; but don’t stop there -it isn’t the only place!
And, again, just a few days ago, Investing Answers featured a report by Nathan Slaughter of StreetAuthority who reported that when it comes to investing success, the wealthiest investors in the world tend to invest in natural resources. As North Dakota booms in its quest to produce oil, Slaughter reports that there is also a boom in shale oil drilling in the NW corner of Louisiana’s Desoto Parish, which has become the nation’s top producing natural gas field. At this point in history, where there is shale oil drilling, there is opportunity.
As my title promises, there are jobs happening as well in Omaha, which Kiplinger named in 2011 as the “number one best value city for its vibrancy, cost of living, and low unemployment rate.” Greater Omaha hosts over 30,000 businesses, and the city is one of few in 2012 who maintains a triple-A credit rating. Some of the resident businesses there are household names like Omaha Steaks, Mutual of Omaha, Gallup, PayPal, Aflac ,and TD Ameritrade. You’ll also find a footprint there for Google, Verizon and Yahoo!, among many other technical brands.
If there isn’t enough great statistical information to attract a job seeker to Omaha, there is the youthful, energetic vibe of the redeveloped downtown district. Since about 2002, when the younger set decided to meet there for coffee and jazz, the evolution of the downtown area has been a testament to the city’s solid economic health and growth while the rest of us have been licking our wounds.
Look, I’ve talked to a number of my readers who need jobs, but who cannot cut family and friendship ties to a place like California, and I completely understand. But, I also know that it’s easier to whine and moan about why you cannot do something, rather than take the proverbial well-planned leap. As terrifying as it sounds, moving to take a job can be one of the best things that will ever happen to you, particularly when the move is to a place where the buzz of productivity fuels optimism and well-being. I know, because it has happened to me.
I also know that young people who are hitting a wall in California, or Arizona, or Florida could be encouraged to go where the jobs are. Isn’t that what WE did in our day? Who among us didn’t hop in our “beater” and drive to a distant place, waving to mom and dad as we backed out of their driveway? As we did then – following healthy job leads to new locales – we might just need to do now.
Any discussion of hopes and dreams brings up the notion of a rewarding job with a promising future. It is the springboard to our desire for homes, marriages and children. The American Dream was built on a good job, first and foremost. It’s one of those times when the dream seems to have died. But perhaps it hasn’t – perhaps, as my dear friend Paul Abram Constantine says, it’s just been “rearranged” – or in this case, relocated.
Diane Y. Chapman (Di Chapman) is the Chief Communications Officer of Power Connections, and the founder of Words To Your Advantage Speaking and Writing Service. She is also a contributor to How Smart People Sabotage Their Job Search: Ten Mistakes Executives Make and How To Fix Them,” available on Amazon.