Last Blog I gave my personal view of the Why of Economic Development. It was really simple, and I hope to carry that forward in every post I make going forward. Contrary to what some in my profession would say, economic development is not for professionals only but for everyone who has the desire and ability to work together for the common good.
It all starts with the leadership of the local EDO. A Board made up of individuals who are true leaders in the community can make all the difference. It is crucial that the Board be comprised of people who understand that old Rising Tide philosophy and who actually have the ability to get things done. I have found that some Board turnover is needed to ensure new ideas, but it is also important to not have so much turnover that the positions become meaningless and ineffectual. A good Board can make life much easier for a local developer and a bad Board...need I say more?
The Board’s most important role is to hire and, when needed, fire the Director. They help set the budget, emphasize priorities and block and tackle for the Director. In the best of circumstances, the Director and Board Chair have almost daily contact. They serve as advice and counsel so that the Director is not left on a limb.
The Director is first and foremost the point person of the organization. Similar to the military, the point person is out front where they can be the first to lead to victory or the first to get shot! Their job is to keep moving the ball forward and bring in the right people at the right time with the right information. No one person can bring in a new industry and anyone who says differently is just a narcissistic fool.
The real heroes in a successful community are the people who live there. Many times, a company will send in people incognito to get a feel for the community. If they are treated poorly at the local hotel or get icy stares by a store clerk, it is unlikely that they will give a community a second look. I am terribly fortunate that I have yet to have a company receive anything but kindness and offers of assistance from our locals to a company. Whether it is a visit to the schools, a Real Estate agent, a bank or a local store, it is no accident that Murray, Kentucky is considered one of the friendliest small towns in America. I can testify to this personally as this had a major impact on my personal decision to move here some 21 years ago.
So, the Who of economic development is... YOU. People like me are just lucky enough to be given the privilege of helping to organize the talent that is already in place. Thanks.