Monday, December 31, 2007

City studying potential for growth

By Joe Wessels
Post contributor

Cincinnati officials are studying whether a "place-based" approach would be best for the city's future economic development.

In an unfinished report that is part of the "Go Cincinnati" economic development initiative, experts in several urban development and real estate research firms suggest the city should spend money building up specific areas of the city and that would, in turn, spur further development in other areas.

The report - conducted by Washington, D.C.-based Brookings Institution and Social Compact, Cincinnati-based KMK consulting and Bethesda, Md.-based Robert Charles Lesser Co. - cites "existing growth opportunity districts" as downtown, Over-the-Rhine and Uptown, an area around the University of Cincinnati campus in Clifton, Corryville and Clifton Heights.

"New growth opportunity districts" include three areas. More here.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Economic development officials hope to take advantange of Caucus spotlight

Thursday, December 27, 2007, 8:39 AM
By Pat Curtis

Economic development officials are hoping to take advantage of the national spotlight that's focused on Iowa right now because of the Caucuses. A new series of ads are playing on video screens at the Des Moines Airport and on-line at

Shawn Rolland with the Iowa Department of Economic Development says the campaign is designed to encourage families who are looking to relocate to consider Iowa. It's also focused on breaking down stereotypes.

"I think a lot of people come into the state with a preconceived notion of how the state contributes," Rolland says, "and what we want to do is have people rethink what's going on in the state and reposition what it's known for."

There's a 30 second ad and another video titled "The Offer," that runs over six minutes in length. Rolland says the videos are also available to growing businesses in the state. He says companies that are looking for workers can use the videos to recruit individuals to Iowa.

The videos close with a message from Governor Chet Culver, who describes Iowa as a leader in renewable energy, health care and education. Culver says Iowa ranks first in the nation in terms of "quality of life." The ad campaign will run through January 10.

Friday, December 28, 2007

“Branding Wisconsin’s economic regions comes with promise, and some caution signs”

December 23, 2007
By Tom Still

SHEBOYGAN – This year’s New North Summit drew somewhere north of 500 people to a lakeside resort for a day’s worth of talk about strengthening the economy of the 18-county region. From Gov. Jim Doyle to individual entrepreneurs, attendees at the summit heard from speakers with ideas for promoting the region, nurturing its unique assets and branding it as a great place to live and work.

New North, which is clustered in northeast Wisconsin, is a prominent example of the “New Regionalism” in state economic development circles. Born of discussions seven years ago during the Wisconsin Economic Summits in Milwaukee, the concept is finally coming of age with organizations such as Milwaukee 7 in southeast Wisconsin, Centergy in central Wisconsin, Thrive in the Madison area, the 7 Rivers Region near La Crosse, Momentum Chippewa Valley and more.

The effort has become a centerpiece of Doyle’s economic strategy and a legitimate way for otherwise diverse interests, public and private, to pull together to get things done. While there are advantages to the regional approach, there are some reasons to withhold judgment for a while on just how successful some of these entities might be.

First, here’s why regional economic development makes sense:

  • We don’t live in a city-by-city, county-by-county world anymore. While that was certainly the economic model through much of the 20th century, the global economy now dictates otherwise. Stevens Point won’t get ahead by competing with Wausau or Marshfield, but all three might profit by collaborating within a region.?

  • Regions can be big enough to brand, and thus promote, within Wisconsin and outside its borders. Other than Milwaukee, Madison or Green Bay, most Wisconsin cities are too small to sell themselves effectively outside the state. Branding counties? Good luck. No one remembers county names outside their home states except for a select few, such as Cook County in Illinois or Napa County in California.

More here.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Group hopes to put brand on area's recruiting effort

Goal is to unify message to attract businesses and talent
By Nathan Phelps

A consortium of Brown County businesses and agencies has launched a new effort to come up with an "authentic brand" for the Green Bay area with the hopes of attracting additional business by showing the region has more to offer than cold weather and football.

The effort is meant to attract and retain businesses in the area, bring in additional tourism and attract young professionals and skilled workers to the community, said Donsia Strong Hill, co-chair for the Greater Green Bay Branding Initiative.

"Recruitment is a big part of this because people don't really know who we are," she said after a news conference Tuesday.

The result of the branding efforts is expected to launch in March, said Michael Hildebrand, group co-chair. The group is working to raise $1 million over two years to cover the initial costs of the branding effort. More here.

M3 Alliance Forms To Better Market Northwest Miss. Counties

The economic development corporations of four Northwest Mississippi counties - DeSoto, Tunica, Tate and Panola - have joined together with hopes of presenting a unified regional front to any company looking to relocate to the area.

Dubbed the "M3 Alliance" (for "Mississippi, Memphis and Metro Area"), the group will market the region by promoting the benefits of their respective counties as well as those of Memphis - the northern neighbor that boasts global name recognition and robust transportation infrastructure.

"We felt these four counties had so much in common with I-55, proximity to Memphis and many of the logistics advantages that Memphis offers," said M3 partner Jim Flanagan. "We felt it was important to band together as this Northwest Mississippi alliance."

The four leaders of M3 are Flanagan, president and CEO of the DeSoto County Economic Development Council; Lyn Arnold, president and CEO of the Tunica County Chamber and Economic Development Foundation; Janie Mortimer, executive director of the Tate County Economic Development Foundation; and Sonny Simmons, CEO of the Panola Partnership Inc.
The quartet is out to prove that the sum of the region is greater than its parts.

"We've found that the regional concept is the best way to market an area as opposed to trying to market ourselves individually, like we have in the past," Simmons said. More here.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Trip to Hawaii is all business

Friday, December 21, 2007
DAWN KENT News staff writer

Gov. Bob Riley, Alabama's economic developers and other state officials will kick off the new year by playing host to 20 site-selection consultants at a golf tournament in Hawaii.

The "Sweet Home Alabama" event, held in recent years at Hoover's Renaissance Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa, will coincide with the Mercedes-Benz Championship golf tournament in Maui.
Sponsored by economic development organizations and corporations from across the state, the event is aimed at educating consultants on doing business in Alabama.

Site-selection consultants are key players in landing lucrative projects and the jobs that come with them, said Neal Wade, director of the Alabama Development Office.

"It's probably the most important aspect of our marketing effort, to meet with and network with site consultants, not just in this event, but throughout the year," he said. "Almost all of the major projects we work are initiated by site consultants."

Sponsors requested the venue change this year in an effort to attract some of the most active site consultants from across the country, Wade said.

Such consultants field invitations from many states. The Mercedes Championship, a PGA winners-only event, gives Alabama a competitive venue against states like Georgia, which entertains consultants at the Masters Tournament in Augusta.

The "Sweet Home Alabama" event will run Jan. 2-6, with business sessions planned on two mornings. Speakers will include Riley and two-year colleges Chancellor Bradley Byrne and representatives from Alabama companies, which are some of the state's best ambassadors, Wade said. More here.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Building Business

New North Summit addressed bringing businesses to the region
By Janet Ortegon Sheboygan Press staff

When Gov. Jim Doyle traveled to Ireland several years ago, he hoped to find out how the small British nation went from being one of the poorest members of the European union to the one of the richest.

Among other things, he found the secret to Ireland's success was a shared vision of the country's goal of economic stability.

Addressing approximately 600 people attending the New North Summit at Blue Harbor Resort and Conference Center Friday morning, Doyle said finding a common goal worked for Ireland and it will work for the New North, too.

New North is a consortium of business people, educators and government leaders from 18 counties in northeast Wisconsin working toward attracting businesses and workers to the region.

"What they were out to accomplish was to upgrade and modernize the Irish economy and that was understood from the person on the street to the person at the highest levels of government and the corporate world," Doyle told summit attendees. "And I applaud the efforts you have made in the New North because it seems to me that perhaps above all else, you have created and worked to build a shared vision in the region of what it is that you need to accomplish." More here.

Report slams economic strategy

County's focus should be on new business, not on tourism
By Dave Moller,» More from Dave Moller12:01 a.m. PT Dec 19, 2007

Nevada County economic groups need to work together and attract new businesses instead of concentrating on the status quo and tourism, according to a new report that was critical of existing efforts.

The county should target higher-paying businesses such as information services, which has "significant" growth potential, along with professional services and health care, the study said. Tourism should not be a target because the lower wages will not improve the county's standard of living, it said.

"You need to focus on business attraction, and you really haven't done much," said Libby Seifel, author of the 73-page report to the Nevada County Board of Supervisors Tuesday that was ordered last year.

The report's proposed strategies are almost the exact opposite of what is occurring now: The current mission of the county's Economic Resource Council has been to retain, not attract, new businesses. The mission of the area's chambers of commerce has been to attract visitors, not businesses.

The county needs to sharply increase funding to attract new businesses, the report said. It pointed out, however, that money could be redirected from the tourism budget. It also suggested tapping the private sector. More here.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Study says change essential for Dayton's economic development

Consultants outline six recommendations to help the city's economic development delivery system.

By Joanne Huist Smith
Staff Writer
Friday, December 14, 2007

DAYTON — It's time for change, Dayton. That's the message coming from a study by KMK Consulting Company, LLC looking at ways to improve the city's economic development delivery system.

"We got six pretty significant recommendations and we're certainly evaluating them and devising a plan of attack," Young said.

Five organizations impacting economic development in Dayton were reviewed as part of the study, including the city's Department of Economic Development, CityWide Development Corporation, the Downtown Dayton Partnership, the Dayton-Montgomery County Port Authority and the Greater Dayton Foreign Trade Zone.

The study found the city's biggest inefficiency fell in the area of business retention.
"Everyone does it yet no one is responsible," the study said.

Another obstacle pointed out in the study, "none of the staff of the various organizations, nor any of their board members interviewed, indicated a willingness to give up any of their 'turf' and narrow their current scope of services."

The six recommendations include:

• Creating a specialized agency to direct a new, consolidated business retention and expansion program for the city. The program should be managed by an independent agency on an interim basis until a development authority has been formed.

All business retention activities currently being conducted for the city should be consolidated into the new program.

• Create a government oversight committee to guide the consolidation of economic development services to achieve bold delivery system improvements for the city. The consolidation should be accomplished in six months.

• Launch an initiative to reinvent downtown Dayton. The city, in partnership with the county and the private sector, should hire a national consultant to analyze the Dayton market and recommend ways to transform the city's core into a residential community.

• Form a city development authority or a city/county development authority that would be located at one site and called, the Dayton Montgomery County Growth Center. The collaborative would be governed by a private sector board selected by the mayor and Montgomery County Commission.

• Create a private-sector deal fund. This support finance function would source and manage private-sector equity and debt into the development pipeline. Private sector funds can be raised from investors who are interested in the redevelopment of Dayton.

• Expand support of the Regional Leaders Forum. This collaborative should be engaged in an advisory role focusing on regional cooperation. All the individual members of the Leaders Forum should have a interest in the competitive success of the urban core of the region that is the brand name of the region — Dayton.

For New Orleans, report sends a familiar message on growing jobs

In a quest to get New Orleans' post-Katrina economy moving in the right direction, a private research group recently outlined the task ahead for the city.

The recommendations by RAND Corp. weren't radical, at least by the standards of hot-growing economies, but were foreign to usual practice in New Orleans. Much of the report qualifies as common sense - and a large portion fell under "Where have we heard this before?"

Perhaps in countless other studies gathering dust on the shelf.

But more than two years after the hurricane flooded 80 percent of New Orleans, and long after it became apparent big companies won't be running in with fists full of cash, the RAND report outlined a lengthy task. Charitably speaking, the city has a less-than-stellar track record for its business climate, especially since the oil bust of the 1980s.

RAND compiled its recommendations for Horizon Initiative, a civic-business group formed after Katrina, and studied economic development plans in 17 other regions - including some that have been cleaning New Orleans' clock. RAND also talked with locals in business and government. More here.

Culture Builds initiative wants to pin down what’s unique about Tuscaloosa County

By Mark Hughes Cobb Staff Writer December 09, 2007

What is Tuscaloosa? What is the city’s culture? And why should anyone want to live here?

Those broad questions of identity are chief in the thoughts of the area’s leaders in business, government, education and arts, those who have stakes in the Culture Builds Tuscaloosa County initiative.

“People ask, ‘Can this be anything but a football town?’ I think it’s not an either/or,” said Sara Anne Gibson, executive director of the Kentuck Association. “Culture is those things that make a community unique. Culture is the Westervelt-Warner Museum, the Crimson Tide and Kentuck.

”Culture Builds is seeking to know how people can find the arts as involving and accessible as the gridiron.

The Culture Builds initiative is an effort co-sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama, the cities of Tuscaloosa and Northport, Tuscaloosa County and the University of Alabama. It seeks to bring area institutions, neighborhoods and amenities — from the symphony to the Crimson Tide, the bluegrass pickers to the poets — under its umbrella. More here.

Aerotropolis seen as key to reviving Detroit area

As metro Detroit struggles to renew and rebuild its economy, one goal has emerged as pivotal -- the creation of a new economic hub around Metro and Willow Run airports.

Known as an aerotropolis, or airport city, the goal foresees a day when tens of thousands of people would work in shipping, logistics, air cargo and other businesses linked to the global economy by convenient air transportation.

The goal of an aerotropolis remains elusive and faces daunting challenges. But Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano, who champions the plan, says it's critical to the region's future.

"We've got an economy that's been hit really hard. We've got to start doing things outside the box," he said. "Look at what Roosevelt did. He started a number of programs to jump-start the economy and spur economic growth. We cannot be afraid of failure."

Although the idea of an aerotropolis has been discussed for several years, Ficano and other civic and business leaders are optimistic that the plan now is moving forward in important ways.

Airport consultant John Kasarda of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is to finish a benchmarking study early next year to see how the Detroit aerotropolis plan stacks up against other cities in the nation that are thinking the same way. More here.

Nonprofit to close after two decades

After more than two decades of trying to promote growth of the local economy, Santa Fe Economic Development Inc. plans to close its doors at the end of the year.

The nonprofit's president, Catherine Zacher, issued a statement Monday saying it lacked government financial support.

"Unfortunately, the continuing operation of SFEDI is ... dependent upon financial support provided by the community through state and local government," she said. "That support has not been forthcoming."

City and county economic development officials couldn't be reached for comment about the pending shutdown. But a Santa Fe city councilor said she was sorry to hear the news and would try to reverse it.

"At one time, five years ago, we had a contract with the city," said Zacher, who managed the operation along with two staff members. "And we just completed a contract with the county." More here.

Open for business?

Hamilton's economic development department has existed for years as the lost orphan inside the city's vast bureaucratic maze.

Everybody has talked about how lovely and needed the department is to the future of the city, but nobody - politicians, city staff, the business community - has wanted to take responsibility for nurturing the department into adulthood.

This week, though, councillors and city management, took a gingerly step forward to infuse the department with some sense of importance. The department will receive, starting in 2008, a much-needed cash infusion of $1.5 million that will go towards boosting its marketing and promotions strategy, hiring eight full-time people and creating an intergovernmental affairs office to lobby higher levels of government.

Even though Mayor Fred Eisenberger, city staff and the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce applauded council's decision as a new era for doing business in Hamilton, the reality is more dour. More here.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Study: Walworth County lagging in economic development race

In his 2007 budget brief, Walworth County Administrator David Bretl wrote, "there is no free lunch."

He was referring to paying for the wide range of services the county government provides its citizens.

A privately funded economic study says Walworth County, as a whole, has too many free lunches, a trend that needs to change.

Without a comprehensive, countywide economic development plan, the county economy is missing opportunities despite a prime location between four major metropolitan areas, according to the study.

"While Walworth County is experiencing above-average growth in population, current economic indicators show that Walworth County's economy is underperforming," the study's executive summary reads. "Key indicators such as per capita income and the number of school children receiving free or reduced lunch demonstrate significant problems that need to be addressed."

The study, commissioned by Johnson Bank, Keefe Real Estate and Bliss Communications, parent company to The Week, says Walworth County can expect to fall behind upward economic trends unless it plans for growth.

Opportunities are there. To capitalize, the county should establish relationships with Milwaukee and northern Illinois where a lot of people coming into the county are from, said Dr. David J. Ward, a consultant from NorthStar Economics who led the study. More here.

Finding the "true brand of Wisconsin'' proves a tricky exercise

By Brian E. Clark

MADISON – For more than six years, Rep. Steve Wieckert has been pushing legislation to brand the state and come up with a short phrase to describe why Wisconsin is a good place to visit, relocate, go to school or expand a business.

He’s still at it, and predicts his bill (Assembly Bill 265) will make it through the Legislature and be signed by Gov. Jim Doyle next year.

But that doesn’t mean Wieckert (R-Appleton) isn’t supporting a new effort by Tourism Secretary Kelli Trumble to come up with a brand that would boost travel and improve the state’s overall image.

Trumble says it's her goal to “unearth, once and for all, the true brand of Wisconsin.” “I compliment [the Department of] Tourism for doing this,” he said last week. “They’ve had some good slogans in the past because we have so much to offer. “But a brand is more than a bumper sticker,” he said. “It’s a whole cognitive emotional thing. I would like a brand that not only brings travelers here, but encourages economic development, too."

Wieckert estimated the state's many agencies will spend about $20 million annually to market various aspects of Wisconsin. “With a unified brand, there could be a synergy to support each other,” he said.

Kathi Seifert, a former Kimberly-Clark executive who now heads Appleton-based Pinnacle Perspectives, said she was unaware of the Tourism effort. However, she still supports the idea.

Seifert is a co-chair of New North, which promotes northeast Wisconsin and has as its own brand, “North of What You Expect.” More here.

Great Lakes see a future beyond industry

By Dennis Cauchon, USA TODAY
WAUKEGAN, Ill. — When Mayor Richard Hyde looks at the waterfront here, he sees beyond the toxic waste, the empty factories and the vacant lots. He envisions a post-industrial future of condos, shops and restaurants — a bustling community of 10,000 affluent people on the shore of Lake Michigan.

Unfortunately for the mayor, three factories have no plans to leave. They've been in Waukegan for generations and their owners don't appreciate being treated like outcasts to be evicted.

"We've given them notice," says the mayor, 80, who was born here. "They can stay another five years, maybe 10 or 15 years, but after that they must go."

Why close a profitable, non-polluting wallboard plant that would cost $100 million to replace? asks National Gypsum plant manager Steve Rogers, 31. Sixty workers would lose jobs paying $18 to $20 an hour. "They aren't going to make that kind of money serving mocha frappuccinos," he says.

The conflict in Waukegan symbolizes the dramatic changes sweeping across the five Great Lakes, a region that is trying to reinvent itself in a way that could have major implications for the nation. Attitudes about the Great Lakes have changed so drastically during the past three decades that manufacturers are finding themselves unwelcome even in cities they once ruled. More here.

MCED takes new approach to luring industry

Crawfordsville and Montgomery County might have many assets to attract business, like a shovel-ready commerce park and industrial corridor, but those things are only part of what businesses look for when determining a new location.

An emerging approach to attract businesses to any area involves looking not just at the immediately surrounding community, but also at the region and even the state, Montgomery County Economic Development Director Bill Henderson said.When he tries to sell Montgomery County as a viable place for industry, he makes sure to mention regional business attractions — like the Indianapolis International Airport and Purdue University.

“It would be a mistake to go out there and limit yourself,” Henderson said. “When you think about the whole piece of the pie for attracting business, you have to look at the region, then the state, and then look at the LEDOs (local economic development organizations).”Starting now and continuing through next year, MCED will take a proactive approach to marketing the county as a viable business site by traveling around the region and country to visit with site selection companies that represent businesses wanting to move or start in a new area, Henderson said.

Site selection firms have made it clear they want to have personal relationships with communities they are investigating, and Henderson plans to give them just that. MCED will focus on the Illinois and Chicago areas next year and is one of only six economic development organizations in Indiana to be able to go with state officials to Chicago to meet with several international firms.

MCED has been to Portland, Ore., and Indianapolis in its mission to promote Crawfordsville’s commerce park and industrial corridor. More here.