BLUEFIELD — How to find the new opportunities being created by the arrival of Intuit and Alorica jobs coming into downtown Bluefield was the topic Thursday of a program presented to residents interested in learning more.
Diane Lupke, president of Wisconsin-based Diane Lupke & Associates, Inc. spoke at the Bluefield Arts Center Theater about how to find opportunities for economic development that new jobs create. The free seminar was “What can Intuit/Alorica mean for Bluefield?”
Intuit, which offers online products like QuickBooks, Mint and TurboTax, has temporary headquarters in the former AAA building on Commerce Street. The company now has 65 employees with another 20 ready for training this month and in December. Alorica is providing training and supervision for employees who help online customers.
Eventually, Intuit/Alorica will move into its permanent headquarters, called a “prosperity hub,” in the Summit Bank building on Federal Street and employ up to 500 people.
Lupke said getting this company, which is acknowledged as one of the best companies in the country to work for, is a big win for Bluefield. And with this influx of jobs comes opportunities.
“What I want to talk to you about is how you can maximize this fantastic investment you have here,” she told the audience. “You want to make sure you get the most out of that as possible.”
Lupke spoke about how the new jobs and the salaries they bring to the local economy could generate even more local employment. First, she asked the people attending the seminar to imagine that they’ve been given a $100 bill. Then she asked them to write on a card how they would spend that money.
Several people said they would go out to dinner at a local restaurant. Another said she would get a facial. Next, Lupke asked the people who would have spent their $100 locally to stand. Most people stood up. Only a few stood when asked if they spent the money outside of Bluefield.
“So what does this represent?” Lupke asked.
People who spent the money outside of Bluefield represented leakage. If the money was spent in the city, that was a multiplier, she said.
“If you spend that money in the community, that money has the opportunity to go around and around that community to the next business to the next business and the next business,” Lupke stated. “You’ve taken that $100 and you made it a lot more. That’s what matters.”
The people who spent their money outside the community also represented opportunity: an opportunity to find things that will attract people and bring their spending back into the community, she said.
There are three ways the new jobs and their salaries will have an impact. The direct impact consists of jobs and the investment they represent. The indirect impact is wages, taxes, and business-to-business transactions. The induced impact includes housing, goods, and services purchased through wages; these services can include things such as dry cleaning and dentist visits.
“Where they spend those wages, that is something you can begin to control,” Lupke said. “What are the things that aren’t here right now? What are the things you might be missing? Those can be some of the opportunity here.”
Intuit and Alorica employees will need housing, she said. The seminar’s participants also spoke of needs such as day care facilities, elder care, dry cleaning, barber shops, more downtown restaurants and a coffee shop. Getting existing businesses to stay open longer was another suggestion.
Lupke also spoke about an intangible factor Bluefield could profit from, a factor she called “The Buzz.”
The Buzz is the excitement generated by the arrival of Intuit and Alorica, she said. Companies that learn about Intuit and Alorica coming to Bluefield can become interested in the city, too; however, the Buzz can be “fleeting,” so the community should take advantage of it soon.
Jim Spencer, Bluefield’s director of economic and community development said a grant from the Blueprint Community Federal Home Loan Bank from Pittsburgh financed Lupke’s visit.
— Contact Greg Jordan at email@example.com