Economic Developers need to figure out what the community has to sell. Working with the community leaders and decision makers as well as small business owners and residents, an economic developer should lead the effort to help the community find there way. What is it that this community has to sell in terms of “Why would someone move here or invest here?” If a community wants to grow and prosper and keep the community assets and residents that they have through their economic development goals, strategies and actions; then we as the professional need to assist them in defining their vision, goals, strategies and actions.
Cookie cutter strategic plans with ¾ of the document being statistics pulled from secondary sources in not a vision nor will this document have the goals and strategies of the community. It will have the standard and poorly conceived list of things to do to be great. Jobs and investment come when the vision is that of the community and the goals and strategies are those of the leaders and citizens. Important, as well, is always re-evaluating the strategies and actions as they are implemented. Its always changing a little. Is not this a fun job?
We love the communities we serve and the dirt we move and development that occurs. We celebrate their success with them. Is not this a miracle, this wonderful American local democracy? Its crazy and confusing and difficult and ever changing. But consider trying to do this in countries where democracy is brand new!. I am so glad we have 200 years of democracy in action or experience. Our jobs are easy in the US as economic developers. Hats off those economic developers in emerging democratic countries.