Is your community ready for the next opportunity? Part 1

Developing a local team is a proactive, economical and collaborative strategy for successful economic development growth and attraction.

Is your community ready for the next opportunity? What happens when the next big business investment opportunity arises for your community? Do you have someone or an organization that will take an active lead role in fostering that investment? If not, who does that for your community?

Though many communities have some level of Economic Development leadership, whether it be at the municipal level, association level such as a Chamber of Commerce or volunteer ED org, or in a more formalized, typically Private/Public partnership.

Whoever is responsible, it is everyone’s role to take part to ensure long term viability and economic sustainability of your community.

Municipal Level

City, Village, Township, or County officials with a direct role in economic development. Often combined with downtown development, main street programs, zoning or planning, these positions take an active role in recruitment and attraction, as well as local facilitation when interest arises. However, retention is often not actively undertaken by folks in these roles.

Association Level

Chambers of commerce, DDA, CVB, business associations, ad hoc organizations, etc., with a specific focus on economic development. These organizations often conduct economic development in conjunction with their original focus. Since these organizations are in regular contact with local businesses and organizations, they may be a great source of undertones out on the street. These folks can also serve as great points of contact for retention type visits in the community. If there is an immediate need, these individuals will know who or where to direct the concern in order to proactively stem off a potential issue.

Private/Public Partnership

Often, smaller communities with lower tax revenues, do not have a formalized economic development organization in conjunction with a municipality or association specifically. In many of these circumstances, a private/public partnership is the most advantageous approach. This approach provides for multiple funding sources to be leveraged, while allowing the organization to focus solely on economic development. This type of organization typically can stay in tune with current events, serve as the local point of contact for recruitment and attraction, as well as actively undertake regular retention visits and activities to ensure investment stays local.

Organizations such as this can also undertake value added activities such as events, trainings, and consulting. These additional activities are great ways to engage private Economic Development consultants to leverage their expertise to benefit everyone.

Regardless of whether your community has one of the types of economic development organizations discussed above or not, it is still imperative that everyone take an active part in the economic development process.

In Part 2, we will offer a few suggestions for other strategies to assist in this process by increasing local capacity while engaging others not directly involved in business attraction, growth and retention on a daily basis.

Michigan State University Extension has had a unique relationship with the regional economic development organization Northern Lakes Economic Alliance (NLEA) for more than 20 years. Recognizing the strength of combining resources, this partnership focuses on economic development, entrepreneurship growth and community infrastructure throughout a four-county region in the northwest Lower Peninsula, specifically Antrim, Charlevoix, Cheboygan and Emmet counties. As a result, the NLEA utilizes resources offered through MSU Extension as it provides leadership to state-wide programs sponsored by MSU Extension.

Other articles in this series

Is your community ready for the next opportunity? Part 2

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