Marketing and Customer Service are Also Economic Development
Visit Florida has been in the news again because there are legislators wanting to eliminate it or cut funding - again. Last year the budget was cut from $76 million to $50 million and again, some ranking members of the Legislature are questioning the value of marketing Florida as a place to visit and do business. All too familiar, we have been down this road before with both VISIT Florida and Enterprise Florida.
All You Upstarts Out There
Constant Change Causes Ups and Downs for Entrepreneurs
Read the Wall Street Journal lately and you see weekly articles about We Work. Nothing good is being said. We Work is a real estate company that specializes in co-work space both physical and virtual. This idea really began at the turn of the century. It’s only 20 years old. It started out as a solution to a problem. Simply, it was unproductive for some to work at home, cost prohibitive to rent or build an office of your own and it created a social and synergistic working environment. What a cool idea. Many jumped on this bandwagon and started co-work spaces. Many closed a year later. We Work has more problems than it can count including the flamboyant CEO.
What Everyone Thinks About Millennials Isn’t Necessarily True
And How That Can Help Our Community
At the beginning of this decade millennials were reported as moving to cities in droves. This helped lead an urban revival according to an article in the Wall Street Journal last month.
We’ve all continually heard that millennials want big-city life. It is a quality of life issue with them. They want cultural diversity, a vibrant nightlife, a myriad of restaurant, retail and entertainment options. The well-paying jobs are there.
Manufacturing in the United States is Not a Thing of the Past
It Has a Big Impact on Our Present and Future
While we all know that manufacturing in the United States is less than what it used to be, it is still a large part of our economy and is undergoing a lot of change.
According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, manufacturing jobs accounted for 25% of total employment in 1970, 16% in 1990 and 8.5% currently. However, if you look at the “Final Output of U.S. –Made Goods,” manufactured items account for 30% of GDP. This describes the goods loaded on trucks, trains and ships, moving through warehouses and ending up on retailer’s shelves and floors.
Jail Time and Economic Development
Work Programs Are Making a Difference
We have all seen alarming stories about early release of dangerous felons, overcrowding in our prisons, sanctuary cities that do not capture and detain people who come to this country illegally, etc. Controversy abounds and the effects are often detrimental to our society.
Prison work programs may be a story that is not only helpful to our society but a part of economic development today.
In 1979 the U.S. Department of Justice implemented the Prison Industry Enhancement Certification Program (PIECP) developed by Congress. This program allowed inmates to work for private companies. Private companies must submit to all necessary requirements and can then be exempt from federal restrictions regarding prisoner-made products.
Education and Economic Development
The Pendulum Always Swings
Going to college, has for decades, been the ultimate goal in order to have a future. That future, of course, is in the eye of the beholder. But most people have looked at a good education as the precursor to getting a good job and perhaps providing for a family. People have also strived to be fulfilled and happy. It has been said education itself, makes one a more well-rounded person.
Then businesses and economic developers started to talk to educational institutions about how they were preparing students for the future. Are they getting a degree in something that will give them a job? Many students weren’t really interested in college but were still bright and talented. These students could get certifications and land jobs with skills companies actually needed. However, there are parents who think there is a stigma somehow to what they perceive as “vocational training.” Student loan debt has continued to stay in the news. The expense of college can be prohibitive for some.
Do Economic Developers Attract Retail?
Is There a Disconnect in Expectations?
Yes and no and yes.
It depends on the community and the economic development organization. It also depends on the chambers of commerce and the municipalities.
There are small and rural communities that do not have adequate infrastructure or talent pools for industries such as manufacturing, aerospace or research for example. Communities may not have natural resources that attract tourism. These kinds of communities still need an economic development strategy of some kind. Often retail attraction is the most realistic course of action.
These communities still have adequate population and this population often travels outside of their own area to access retail and restaurants. Many residents of the community may travel outside their area for employment. The study that analyzes the percentage of loss of revenue a community suffers due to residents shopping and eating elsewhere is called a Retail Gap Analysis.
What Do Companies See When They Land In Your Community?
First Impressions Matter.
A site selector or a CEO of the company, who has your community on the short list for relocation, is arriving soon to explore your community. What do they see when they arrive? Have you looked at your community through their objective, tough and appraising eyes?
Should Economic Developers Be Social Workers, Employment Agencies
A couple of years ago I attended an economic development conference. I was sitting at a table with several economic developers during a leadership discussion. I will admit, I was feeling a little intimidated at the level of conversation. I thought, perhaps, I did not have much to offer to the discussion. However, I listened very carefully and started to realize I did have something to say and it was probably not what they wanted to hear.
The words parity and disparity were used extensively. Equality, fairness and diversity. They were discussing what communities needed to do to combat disparity. Honestly, it was pretty pretentious. I spoke up and said that I thought some economic developers were elitists. They asked what I meant by that. They didn’t think I was talking about them of course.
Honesty is the Best Economic Development Policy
Political Correctness or Expediency or worrying about feelings is Not
Some might have similarities, but by and large, every community is different. Each has strengths and weaknesses. Each has unique natural resources, amenities, weather, transportation, industries, etc.
Many in a community have a hard time looking at that community without rose-colored glasses. They don’t want to look at the weaknesses. That’s natural. We as individuals don’t really like looking at our own weaknesses. But it is necessary if you want to improve, grow and make progress.