Economic Intelligence, A Must

Without economic intelligence your economic development efforts are basically just bribing companies to come to your community, often at the cost of the community itself.  What is economic intelligence?  It is knowing parameters, trends, competition, community cost per dollar, and community keys involving the greater good over the human propensity to win at all cost.

Economic intelligence in economic development is what makes economic development ethical, rather than a glory grabbing, win at all cost, race to the bottom.  Corporate is great, but putting corporate over the community you are representing is not.

'Remember, it's not a lie if it makes us money.'

Economic Development Incentive Policy

tax incentivesTax incentive policy is missing in most community governments.  This seems at odds with most community governments being pro-economic development.  How can you define what type of project merits a tax incentive if there are no guidelines?  How do you justify to the tax payers picking up the tab if you believe an incentive was warranted?  Obviously, you don’t and you can’t.

I’ve done economic development deals in multiple States with varying sizes of governments, and what continues to surprise me it the question, “should we give more?”  While the question is a valid question, it underlines the need to set a definition of what projects merit incentives, and which do not.  Otherwise how do you justify governance and equity in the distribution of tax dollars?

Tax incentives have been around for decades, so why haven’t more communities defined parameters to gauge project worth more often?  Perhaps the answer is partially within the dynamic of getting “a win”, rather than defining what a true community “win” looks like.

Strategic Plans Are Great, But…


Strategic planning is not only great, it is necessary to set an organization, staff, and board up for success.  What is often missed however, is the importance of a fund development plan.  How do you know what you can do in a strategic plan if you don’t know what money you have to support and implement the included items?

Fund development is essential.  It is the infrastructure supporting any nonprofit activity.  Fund development discussions connect board, staff, and volunteers to the reality of the organizations reach and potential.  Including an additional fundraiser in a strategic or annual plan is great, but is there money to do it properly?

Everything a nonprofit does comes down to the following, like a three-legged stool, time, talent, and treasure (money).  Without all three elements there will be obstacles on the path to success.


Economic Development, Good or Bad

It always intrigues me in my travels the various defentitions of what economic development actually is. It varies throughout the U.S., State to State, and at times within a State  County, and/or City.  There seems to be a lack of clarity if using the words economic development will result in a positive or negative response within a discussion. One moment you are reading about economic development backlash in Florida, and the next throwing incentives at an Amazon deal is in fashion.

Clarity in defining economic development is difficult due to the culture of economic development entities varying so widely.  Subsequently, this post is an intro to numerous posts within a series of economic development related issues and items.  A great deal of the upcoming posts will be via guest bloggers to provide a wide swath of input and reflection.  My hope is you find something of value within this series that will assist you along your career journey.


Rural Online Shopping May Cost More

Rural living has many benefits, and like everything, some challenges.  Here is a random one most people aren’t aware of, and an easy fix.

Living in a rural location can put you at a disadvantage when shopping online.  Areas with little competition often see higher cost per items online.  The good news is there is an easy fix, use your browser’s incognito function.  Going incognito eliminates the tracking of your location while shopping.


Public Spending & Efficiency

I had a conversation which was focused on manufacturing and efficiency today.  Efficiency, when speaking of technical production equates to measuring and comparing the useful work completed by the machine/process in relation to the total energy expended or heat taken in. The measure of efficiency within the technical dynamic is very quantifiable. But is efficiency in public spending so clearly quantifiable?  Should it be?

Public spending of tax dollars is measured in a myriad of ways that can vary wildly from government entity to government entity.  The question is why is it generally allowable for governments to develop a budget, without developing a correlating strategic plan with benchmarks?  You see the opposite often in nonprofits.  A nonprofit is more likely to have an annual or strategic plan without a fund development plan.  In both cases, aren’t both needed to measure what success looks like within and outside of government walls? How can you hold folks accountable if there are no benchmarks to do so?

Some States do require, prior to State fund disbursement that the local entities provide an annual plan.  Is this micro-managing?  I’d say it is not, instead it is representative of a commitment to responsible distribution of public funds.  How can governments, of any size, determine what is of value, what return on investment is, and/or what merits additional evaluation if budgets are not running along side measurable benchmarks and targeted outcomes?  And how can government workers and/or public officials justify decisions without qualifying and quantifying use of public funds?


Government Is Not Business

So often we hear people say government should be run more like business.  Perhaps in the past, up until the 1960s or so, it might have been more relevant as the majority of business was still run with a community-corporate culture.  Over the last several decades the majority of businesses have seen their culture change from community participant to profit driven entity; subsequently, running government like a business makes zero sense. Government isn’t about profit, it is about service.

As we continue to increase the magnitude of our whining about how politicians are out for themselves, and government doesn’t represent the people, we often fail to look locally at how we, ourselves, can address the continued trend in failed government operations and operatives, be they elected or administrative.  How?  By looking at the way we engage with it.  More often than not you’ll find a lack of community engagement with local government, until a point of crisis, and/or personal impact.  Such engagement takes place within an environment that has already been shaped and twice as hard to turn.

Good government can only exist in an environment that is transparent.  And transparency is only impactful if the community is engaged, looking, and willing to address issues.  Life can be exhausting, so addressing poor governance isn’t high on very many people’s list; subsequently, the political and governing dumpster fires continue to burn.   Perhaps the first step is to get, and keep government administrators and elected officials in place that the community can trust. Kathleen Sebelius sums it up best, “The essence of good government is trust.”

Do you trust those running the government entities that impact you?

Unknown Cost of Compromise

The struggle is real people.  Everyone has had a moment when they ask themselves, ‘do I address the issue, or do I let it slide?’  The ‘slide’ option is most often the easiest path to take. Afterall, if the issue isn’t addressed it either goes without notice (or minimal fuss) or it goes away faster-in theory.

This ‘theory’ plays out nicely on paper in Seth Godin’s blog Counting Beans , which illustrates nicely what the cost of compromise can be. The blog frames ‘compromise’ as the moment one decides to place ‘win’ over ‘worry’.  The moment you short change what is right for what is easy and/or a short-term win.

Bottom line, every action has an outcome.  So the question becomes what is the long-term outcome of compromise for the sake of perceived ‘wins’ or ease?  What is your desired outcome?  How are your decisions framing the culture in your organization’s culture?