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.

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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.

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Groups Doing Great Things

Do You Know Everything That’s Going on in Your Community?

Like many of you, I value my involvement in the community. It’s a pleasure to see friends and colleagues and to catch up on what’s new. Many busy people are taking time to be involved in something beneficial to their community. There are as many different reasons to be involved as there are people. Some say they are too busy. Some wear busy as a badge of honor. I contend, we make time for what we want to make time for. However, that’s another topic altogether.

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Healthcare Is a Huge Location Decision Factor for Companies

Healthcare Is a Huge Location Decision Factor for Companies
Communities Need to Pay Attention to Details as Well as the Big Picture
What does the healthcare community look like?
It includes hospitals, clinics, surgery centers, imaging centers, individual provider practices, pharmacies, medical supply companies, in-home healthcare providers, nursing homes hospice, and mental health facilities.

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Employees as Investors
Are Employees Expenses, Assets, Investments or Investors?

Workforce Retention and Attraction
Many, many times over the years we’ve heard executives say “Our employees are our biggest assets.” A whole lot of that is sound bite, lip service. In a recent seminar I heard the instructor say employees should be regarded as assets not expenses. However, most employers treat their employees as expenses.

There are articles that explain the accounting terms of tangible and intangible assets and say that employees can’t be assets because they aren’t owned. Assets, like a building, can’t leave a company but an employee can.

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Ecosystems, Clusters, Incubators and Accelerators

What the heck are they talking about?
You’ve probably heard these words. Your eyes may have glazed over. You may have even said these terms don’t apply to your life.

They actually do and here’s why.

Entrepreneurs who start up new companies often start at the kitchen table or their garage. Many communities seek to create incubators or accelerators to help these startups grow and succeed.

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Is Attracting Retirees An Economic Development Strategy?

You better believe it.

Florida has the highest percentage of residents who are 65 and older of any state in the United States. Almost one out of four Floridians will be over the age of 65 by the year 2030. Almost 900 people per day are moving to Florida. According to the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs 2017 data, Florida has 1,525,400 veterans. There are 789,717 veterans in Florida 65 years of age and over. Okaloosa County has over 30,000 people ages 65 and older. Ok, so this is a big deal right?

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Build It
If it’s already built, they might come.

If economic development goals are retaining and helping expand existing businesses and attracting new businesses, then maintaining and improving existing infrastructure and creating new infrastructure are key components to achieving those goals.

Companies who already exist in a community rely on existing infrastructure to do business. Everything from high speed data transfer to the employees being able to travel to work every day. Filling in that pothole in front of the building is vital to doing business.

Businesses who wish to expand, need to know that plans for infrastructure maintenance and improvements exist. For example, the municipality needs to be able to handle any increased requirements for utilities, parking, signage and increased use of roads. In a heavy rain, does the parking lot flood due to inadequate drainage?

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Talent War
Talent Attraction War

They say there is a talent attraction “war” going on.
There is a “tug of war” for sure.

It is reported there are more jobs in the United States open than people to fill them. There are new technologies that require skills that many workers don’t have.

Every community is looking for qualified talent. Communities that are trying to help businesses expand or relocate must be able to provide information on the skilled labor pool in their area. These communities compete with each other for talent. Potential job seekers are looking for jobs that satisfy their goals of compensation, quality of life (how they see it), creative fulfillment and more.

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Income and Wealth Creation
Creating Jobs - What does that really mean?

What does that really mean? Do we need to create jobs? What is a job anyway?
A job has traditionally been defined as a relationship between an employer and an employee where the employee is paid for providing a permanent routine service or function; skilled or non-skilled.

We all realize jobs are not created equal. There are low paying jobs like fast food preparation or retail sales. These are valuable as a beginning to the employees work experience. There are higher paying jobs that may also be high-demand jobs such as welders or technology professionals.

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