(Photo by Flickr user CameliaTWU, used under a Creative Commons license)
This story is part of Grow PA, a reported series on economic development across 10 Pennsylvania counties supported by the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia. Sign up for our weekly curated email here.
Justin Capouellez is a “returning boomerang.”
The 25-year-old Johnstown native is back in his hometown after grad school in Charlotte and the pursuit of a career in motivational speaking. Now he’s hoping to get his talent-recruitment startup Boomerang Beacon off the ground while simultaneously running for state representative in Pennsylvania’s 71st District.
Boomerang Beacon, which was a top 10 finalist in Ben Franklin Technology Partners’ recent Big Ideas Contest, is a job platform that connects “boomerangs” like Capouellez with employment opportunities in their hometowns.
“Around 40 percent of college graduates return back home organically,” said Capouellez, citing some numbers from a 2009 study from Next Generation Consulting before adding some findings from his own market analysis. “We discovered at least 38 percent of individuals who moved out of Johnstown are looking to return home.”
That’s often because of financial constraints, said Capouellez. Boomerang Beacon would look to connect recent college grads with middle-market companies hiring locally.
“Middle-market companies struggle the most with talent acquisition. They make $10 million to a million dollars in sales a year but don’t have enough money to allocate to a vibrant HR department, and that’s what’s hurting them the most,” said Capouellez. “They’ll use Monster, SimplyHired, Indeed.”
Unlike those popular platforms, Capouellez said, Boomerang Beacon proactively reaches talent (users create a profile advertising their skills) and matches them directly with employers.
The startup is more or less and idea right now, but Capouellez has the support of some local business community leaders behind him, including Problem Solutions CEO Mike Hruska and consultant Donald Bonk, both of whom are looking to energize business in Johnstown by connecting the city to Pittsburgh’s tech community and talent pool.
But it’s not just about bringing back the talent, nor the jobs.
“We want [talent] to come back with a sense of purpose and mission,” said Capouellez. “Cool communities and culture will hold and attract people in the area.”-30-
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