10 Jul 2017
Economic development is fiercely competitive, and there are myriad opinions about the best strategies to successfully attract business and industry to a region. Some fall on the sword of incentives, while others place their faith in the lure of an abundant natural resource. The reality, though, is that there is no silver bullet when it comes to consistently securing corporate investment, and there are many ways to stumble. Many economic-development organizations get distracted by local politics, are hamstrung by lack of resources or do not receive adequate training to fulfill their missions.
Throughout my career in economic development and site selection, I have experienced the good, the bad and the ugly of these efforts. And while no two regions are alike, I've come to realize that there are some common best practices that can significantly improve the odds that your region will land the big fish when it nibbles:
1. Align key stakeholders around a common vision: Companies canvassing locations for a new manufacturing plant expect an inviting attitude. It begins with the state and local economic-development teams, but if it isn't carried forward with representatives from affected jurisdictions, business groups, local utilities, workforce organizations, educational institutions and others, you stand to be eliminated from consideration. Educating local stakeholders on the purpose and value of your organization is a critical role of the economic developer. Their buy-in of your mission is the fuel that makes the economic-development engine run.