Labor availability was identified as a top local challenge in the 2016 Central Ohio CEO Survey conducted by Capital University for Columbus CEO. Here is how some past CEO of the Year honorees are addressing it.

Nick Akins, Chairman, President & CEO, AEP

We work with local outreach partners such as the Columbus Urban League, Women in Engineering, Military Veterans Resource Center and others to find and attract diverse job candidates.

We've held local career expos for military veterans, and we participate in programs including the US Army PaYS program to recruit military veterans, who tend to have the technical skills and personal characteristics that are a good fit for careers with AEP.

To help develop the next generation of employees, AEP has built a strong engineering

co-op program for college students. We've also invested $5 million locally in our Credits Count program to build pathways for economically disadvantaged students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Lisa Ingram, President & CEO, White Castle System Inc.

We offer team members good reasons to work for White Castle.

Our vision is feeding the souls of craver generations everywhere, especially our team members.Wewant to create an environment that helps them nourish their family and achieve the American dream.

We treat our team members like family, with love, respect and a needed nudge in the right direction every once in a while.This shared value provides team members a place to feel welcomed, appreciated and challenged.

We share our big business goals with all our team—and how each team member's little wins everyday contribute to our overall success.

Wecannot be a place team members want to stay for decades if they are not having fun at theirjob.

Tom Feeney, President & CEO, Safelite Group

At Safelite, we focus on people first as a key part of our business strategy. We believe attracting, engaging and developing talented people is our ultimate competitive advantage. It starts with creating a place where people want to work, rather than a place people need to work.

Our culture is infused with purpose, vision and is an empowering climate. Our employees have inspired many of our recent enhancements, including more career levels and incentives within our customer-facing functions, greater choices in healthcare insurance options, peer-to-peer recognition programs, and a more casual work environment.

We look for people who share our core values and characteristics, which include a service mindset, a can-do attitude and a caring heart.

Catherine Lang-Cline, President & Cofounder, Portfolio Creative

Labor availability is something all businesses are dealing with. As experts in the business of finding people, here are a few things we have learned through the years.

The people we know send us the best people. Period. We meet with referrals to see if they could be a fit now or in the future.

Having the basic skill set to do a job is important, but ultimately, we want to work with people we like. First, we look for people that believe in what we do, our culture and values, and then we can provide more training if needed.

The best people are worth taking the time to search for. Keep looking, because it will save you a lot of heartache in the end. You will be spending more waking hours with this person than with loved ones anyway, so get it right.

Cameron Mitchell, Founder & President, Cameron Mitchell Restaurants

Cameron Mitchell Restaurantsemploys about 4,000 people, whom we call associates. We continue to retain associates well above industry norms by being the employer of choice and by offering a dynamic work culture and quality environment.

Our No. 1 philosophy is “Associates come first.” We go to great lengths to take great care of our people.They know they are our most valuable asset; they are part of the CMR family. Times like these entice companies to cut corners, do more with less, and accept less than peak performance.I believe during times like these the best thing to do is to double down on what you are currently doing, maintain your culture and strengths, and stay the course. We know we can weather the storm and this difficult time will pass.

Central Ohio corporate and nonprofit executives can provide contact information to participate in the 2017 CEO Survey The survey will be available in August.