Young Professionals at a Premium in Rural Areas

by Luke Jones  on Monday, Sep. 24, 2012 12:00 am  

She already wanted to be there, he said.

"You don't find many of those people out here," he said. "It's the same for attorneys. You don't find young attorneys that want to relocate to a smaller Delta home. They want to go to bigger firms and bigger communities."

His best leverage, he said, comes from the facelessness of the urban banks.

"Those bigger banks seem to be cutting back on hours and things," he said. "The employee feels like he's out of touch with reality."

Recruiting Challenges

Ozark Heritage Bank's charter was relocated from Altheimer in Jefferson County, and the Altheimer branch was relocated in July to the relatively prosperous Pine Bluff suburb of White Hall. But even there, hiring has been tricky, Oldner said.

"Surprisingly, we were going to add some folks in our White Hall location, and we thought that job market would be richer, but we had similar difficulties there," she said.

Oldner has tried to spread her job openings through word of mouth via advisory boards, the Arkansas State Bank Department and the Arkansas Bankers Association. She's also advertised in newspapers and on Monster.com. People respond, Oldner said, but too often they back off when they hear about the job's location.

"There are lots of people who do enjoy the rural market," she said. "There are people who are attracted to this. But, obviously, urban areas have more people, so it does become hard."

A few that she's dealt with have cited the county's school systems and the quick commute as rural perks. But then comes the problem of payment: One would think, Oldner said, that the lower cost of living in smaller markets means one could hire at similarly discounted salaries. Not so.

"In reality, you've got to pay up," she said.

For some banks, this isn't an option.

 

 

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