“It’s about being the very best you can be. Nothing else matters as long as you’re working and striving to be your best. Always compete. It’s truly that simple. Find the way to do your best. Compete in everything you do.”
I am not sure if there are economic development maxims, but there should be. One maxim would surely be “You are always competing, whether you know it or not.”
Your community is being evaluated as a business location all the time, regardless of whether it is thriving or struggling in this intensely competitive world. Your existing economic base companies are constantly evaluating how to maximize profits and achieve strategic objectives, and location is a key factor in their success. Businesses seeking new locations are evaluating you via your website, your local newspaper, talking with your citizens and more. What messages are they receiving? Are they good or bad?
I recently spoke with a community that is working really hard to lift itself up after a period of stagnation. Years have passed since it was well-prepared to compete, and it has not had well-funded economic development organizations. During that time, the community most certainly lost opportunities it could have secured for its residents. It most likely also failed to help its existing companies grow, and lost jobs that could have been grown organically. This community is only now realizing that getting back in shape is harder than maintaining health from year to year.
I spoke to yet another community that would be considered a thriving location by most measures. When asked about their economic development efforts, they said that growth seems to come to them, and they don’t have to pursue it. In that case, you have wonder what else would be possible if they intentionally and aggressively competed for specific kinds of businesses and industries. Will their natural advantages not erode if not nurtured and carefully maintained?
Just like in athletics, natural talent will only carry you so far. Every community has a competitive set they should compare and contrast themselves to regularly, and while we can learn a lot from each other, it is also important that community leaders know that they have to constantly compete to grow the economy.
Columbus 2020 Update
- Last week, the Columbus 2020 team and several partners visited Toronto to meet with companies considering a facility in the U.S.
- This week, our team is attending the International Economic Development Council’s annual conference in Cleveland. Thousands of economic developers will visit Ohio to discuss growth, opportunity and innovation.
- Our team will also travel this week to California to meet with companies, and to Washington, D.C., for the Global Cities 2016 Summit.