“Courage is the commitment to begin without any guarantee of success.”
-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Welcome to 2017. The events of the past year have triggered discussion and intrigue about the future of our global economy. Many issues are being debated, including trade, foreign investment, industrial policy, technology’s role in job destruction, and tax and regulatory reform. Individually, these are deep subjects that require attention and research. However, it is more important to aggregate these issues into a comprehensive growth agenda that generates opportunities and increases the quality of life for people across the global and local community.
We are in an enviable position in the United States. We’ve had month after month of job growth since 2010, and while there are weaknesses and gaps, the economy is growing and stable. The United States has favorable demographics, legal protections of business, and the best technology sector in the world. Even with these advantages our potential to grow and prosper is fragile and requires resources, collaboration and hard work.
Here are four suggestions for the economic development community in this era of uncertainty:
- Begin by listening. It is critical that economic developers personally visit companies to have deep discussions about the challenges and opportunities their businesses face. Conversely, companies have to open their doors to be willing to share what is keeping them up at night. A deep commitment to business outreach is a must in 2017.
- Commit to the hard work of following up. When opportunities for growth are identified, we must act quickly to identify resources that can accelerate and make growth easier for companies. When policies or technology shifts adversely impact our industries, we must be there to mitigate the risk to the community we serve and again use resources to provide a softer landing for the workforce.
- Conduct research and provide feedback. Economic development professionals are on the frontlines of the economy. It is our responsibility to translate, with facts and research, what opportunities are being developed or held back by policies being implemented or discussed.
- Prepare, prepare, prepare. We cannot do enough in today’s fast moving economy to prepare communities for growth. It is a must to prepare physical sites and buildings, and to identify and foster talent pipelines by connecting companies with your educational and workforce systems. Strategic planning and policy development should minimize costs and risks of generating opportunities in your area.
- Compete, compete, compete. Economic growth is competitive. There are winners and losers as companies make choices as to where they will locate their facilities and their talent. Inevitably, competition makes us stronger. When we win, we should be grateful and work hard to retain the investment, and when we lose we should learn and adapt.
Here is to a great 2017! It is up to us to act upon our opportunities and accept responsibility for growing our economy. We look forward to the journey and your comments throughout the year.
Columbus 2020 Update
- This week, the Columbus 2020 team will join JobsOhio, Transportation Research Center and The Ohio State University in Detroit for the North American International Auto Show. Our team will also be in Indianapolis to meet with location consultants.
- Back at home, our team will host companies considering the Columbus Region.
- Want to be the first to know about what companies are expanding and locating in the Columbus Region? Sign up to receive announcements here.