The Marisa Tomei character in this has to prove she’s much more than an aspiring hairdresser. She rattles off her automotive expertise, which includes not only oil changes but relining brakes, rebuilding engines, and putting in new transmissions. Her big Italian family obviously speaks “automotive” at the dinner table.

If we knew people had this depth of knowledge in a city, we could do a better job growing higher-paying industry. Current tools for economic development are pretty much in the dark ages and almost always identify the same three industries for attention- software, biotech, and finance- even though local workers may not have the skills for them. Simply naming an industry doesn’t fill buildings. They need good businesses to stay full, and those businesses need skilled people. But how to make that match?

Several years ago, ESRI showed how shopping center owners could mine Twitter for frequent topics of conversation like “diapers” that would indicate demand for tenants like baby stores. AI could use this mining to find the local language of work and what skills local people take special pride in.

This is going to be a gold mine for headhunters looking for talent. The cities that start doing this first will be well ahead of others.