recent article caught our attention. It outlines some of the reasons economic development plans fail to get traction.

The first one is a poor understanding of local context, assets and how to use them  – basically that local government officials “fail to define and sell their unique sizzle” – the things that make their community great and the things that set them apart from other communities – things that will lure new businesses into considering their community.

Second is something the author calls “Loose Lips” or the fact that so many local public officials don’t understand the economic development process. Defined in the article as “the negotiations process” we would probably expand and say it is a poor job of identifying interests and integrating them into the strategy before jumping up and sharing incomplete and inaccurate information – often out of ignorance but sometimes for quick political gains.

The third point cited is close to our hearts. It is that economic development plans fail to identify clear objectives in the first place. And we can see why this is common. Many local areas cities, especially those that are ex-resource or manufacturing towns, are in serious need of development and jobs. So of course it seems natural to say that the economic development plan is to attract jobs of any kind. But as the article points out ” Would they want a “a toxic sludge dump” if produced jobs? – probably not.

We always go back to the basics: take a good look at the assets and resources in the community, build on what you have got and what your community actually wants. This takes time and can seem like it’s slowing you down from getting to the real meat of your economic development plan (developing actions! attracting businesses!), but it’s always, always worth the time and effort and leads to better, more durable results in the end.

For more see the article here.

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