Quotation attributed to H. Jackson Brown Jr.
Life is full of missed opportunities. I remember in 1980 when Apple sold for $22/share in its initial public offering. If you had invested $1,000 in Apple stock at the time, it would be worth $450,000 today. A lot of people (including myself) missed that opportunity. In 1975 Kodak invested the digital camera and failed to capitalize on it. Blockbuster didn’t buy Netflix when it had a chance. Everybody allows opportunities to slip through their fingers and regrets doing so at a later date.
I am bringing up the subject of missed opportunities because for the last 3-years I have observed economic development professionals consistently failed to promotionally leverage the fact their community/state has been designated and American Dream location. In an economy of low unemployment where companies are having difficulty attracting and retaining top talent, this is a classic missed opportunity.
To provide some background, in order to qualify as an American Dream location, residents of a state or MSA must indicate they are achieving their American Dream at a statistically significantly greater degree than national average. Residents in these locations essentially feel they are thriving. This satisfaction with life creates a barrier to leaving the community, a barrier that can translate into improved employee satisfaction, productivity and retention for Companies doing business in the location. As you might expect, only a few states and MSAs meet the criteria to be an American Dream location. This positive point of difference versus other locations offers a competitive promotional point for either capital investment or talent attraction. And yet, few (if any) locations are actually leveraging it in their public relations or promotional efforts.
Now, if you are an economic development professional working in a location that does not have the American Dream designation, the fact your competition is not leveraging the designation in their place branding efforts is a great thing. For them, it is a genuine lost opportunity.
Here is the latest list of states:
- New York
And the list of MSAs:
- Salt Lake City, UT
- Baton Rouge, LA
- York-Hanover, PA
- Toledo, OH
- Syracuse, NY
- Boise City, ID
- Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pomano Beach, FL
- Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, FL
- Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord, NC-SC
- Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA
- Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA
- Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA
- Philadelphia-Camden-Wimington, PA-NJ
- Chicago-Naperville-Joliet, IL-IN-WI
Economic Development professionals and their Agencies should be taking full advantage of this designation in their site selection pitches as well as their public relations and advertising efforts. Failure to do so will be a missed opportunity to differentiate their location from the competition.
Why am I confident it is a missed opportunity? Because market research confirms business executives will preferentially select locations where their employees can better achieve their American Dream.
- Executives are interested in knowing the American Dream Achievement score for locations where their employees work and live (87.3% indicated they want to know).
- Executives believe there is a real business benefit to employees feeling that they are achieving the American Dream (89.2% indicated there is). The three highest ranked benefits were 1) increased employee retention, 2) better work-life balance, and 3) increased employee productivity.
- Executives will use the American Dream Achievement score to differentiate between locations that are finalists in the site selection decision process (63.9% likely to highly likely).
- Executives will be reluctant to relocate their business to a location with a lower American Dream Achievement score even if incentives were offered (31.3% unlikely to highly unlikely).
If you are an economic development professional or elected official in an American Dream location, you need to think about how to positively leverage the designation in your place branding initiatives. Your community has a positive point of difference versus the competition that is being overlooked. At a minimum, include a copy of the Site Selection article in the background material you provide to people and companies considering locating in your community. Ideally you should challenge your promotional Agency or PR firm to recommend the best way to leverage the designation on your website and in your communication plans.
Of course, you also have the option of ignoring the designation and simply letting it become a lost opportunity. If you elect this option, your competition really should send you a bouquet of flowers as a thank you.