Friday, May 29, 2009

Kotkin: The "Creative Class" Won't Save Your City

In many metropolitan areas across the country, city planners and urban developers are designing spaces they hope will attract a particular demographic: professionals who demand relatively little in the way of basic public services, e.g. schools, social services and clinics.

Writing for The American, Joel Kotkin, author of The City: A Global History, argues that this model has severe limitations, and is ultimately unsustainable. Kotkin asserts that what cities need to do to remain viable is to keep and grow the middle - not the "creative" - class.

To read Kotkin's article, The Luxury City vs. The Middle Class, click on the link below.

Monday, May 25, 2009

When Anyone and Everyone Makes Decisions

One way that economic development marketing is has changd significantly in recent years is the increasing number of persons involved in the sales process.

Old sales methods do not prepare the economic developer for today's complex decision making chain. Sales traiing (if we received any at all) teach us to find the one decision maker and focus all our efforts on them.

The problem is we don't know who that is anymore. It could be anyone and everyone. Site selection consultants may act as an initial screening tool. A corporate real estate executive may lead the process. Operational management is consulted along with representatives of human resources, finance, logistics and other functional areas. All have their own biases for optimizing one location over another.

This before it gets to the C-suite for final decision making. Once there, it often gets beyond number crunching to emotion. The former CEO of a major advertising and printing company considered moving the company to the town of his college alma mater simply because he once played quarterback on their football team.

Efforts to increase collaboration within enterprises has led to decision making by committee. What used to be an individual or small group decision has now become a "team" decision, and it’s rare that the economic developer will ever be able to address all of them at once.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Who Controls Your Community's Message?

Technology that allows instant access to information and opens up new lines of communication makes it impossible to control the message anymore.

“There has been a fundamental shift in the relationship between the buyer and the seller, driven by how much more knowledgeable the buyer is; the customer often knows more about the product and the competing options than the seller does,” says Jim Champy, chairman of Perot Systems’ consulting practice and author of Inspire!: Why Customers Come Back.

From "Psychology of the Sale", CRM Magazine, May 2009.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Regional marketing campaign launched

Plan covers county, Baja, Imperial Valley

By Dean Calbreath Union-Tribune Staff Writer
2:00 a.m. May 22, 2009

In an effort to promote more outside investment in the border region, a coalition of local business and civic leaders yesterday launched a marketing campaign aimed at selling San Diego County, the Imperial Valley and Baja California as a single manufacturing zone.

The plan, developed by the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp. and its counterpart in Imperial County, is to market the area as the Cali Baja Bi-National Mega-Region.

The groups hope to attract foreign investors and manufacturers with the idea of tapping into San Diego's research centers and technology clusters, Imperial Valley's inexpensive and undeveloped acreage and Baja California's manufacturing base and low-cost labor.

“We've already got some companies showing interest in the region, but this provides us with marketing tools that unite the whole area,” said Timothy Kelley, who heads the Imperial Valley EDC.

With the help of a $225,000 Commerce Department grant and $90,000 in private contributions, the EDCs have been working together since April 2008 to put together a marketing plan that would identify the region's strengths and opportunities.

Now that the plan has been developed, the next stage is to begin promoting the areas. In mid-June, the EDCs will host 25 foreign journalists from such countries as China, South Korea, Japan, Canada, Germany and France, and take them on a tour of the region, focusing on companies such as Kyocera that do business on both sides of the border.

Other attractions on the tour will range from research-and-development centers in San Diego to solar farms and algae ponds in the Imperial Valley. The algae ponds are being promoted as a potential source of alternative fuels.

Tijuana Mayor Jorge Ramos said he is already trying to promote Baja California's links to the U.S. side of the border during his attempts to draw more businesses from overseas. At a recent trade fair in the Chinese manufacturing center of Xiamen, for instance, representatives from Tijuana conducted joint presentations with representatives from the San Diego and Imperial Valley EDCs.

“We're trying to aggressively market ourselves to China right now,” Ramos said.

Even though China has had some recent success in luring some manufacturing business away from Mexico, Ramos said the Chinese are now interested in opening plants in Tijuana, partly as a low-cost launching pad for the U.S. market.

“This (Cali Baja) initiative will help us develop a strategic plan for both sides of the border,” he said.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Plano EDB attracts business despite economy

By Stewart Jamess

Members of the Plano Economic Development Board and city officials are enjoying the fruits of their labor as companies begin relocating to the city. In 2008, the Plano Economic Development Board and the city of Plano attracted 27 companies, filling about 1.3 million square feet of office space and adding nearly 3,500 jobs. The success of 2008 is spilling into 2009, despite tough economic times.

Resulting from incentive agreements negotiated by the Plano EDB and approved by the city council, a number of businesses will begin the relocation process to Plano in the upcoming months, including Bear Transportation Services and Diodes Inc. The two companies alone will contribute more than 600 employees to the area.

The Plano EDB assists companies with cash grants to help cover the cost of relocation and other expenses.

“It has been really, really good,” said David Ellis, Plano EDB director of technology marketing and redevelopment. “When you look at the rest of the United States, this is one of those small dots of prosperity there still is. There are still companies that are struggling right now, but we are still seeing our share of projects come through.”

Most communities would be thrilled to see even a fraction of what Plano has generated, Ellis said.

“If you are a job seeker, this is the place to be relative to other parts of the country,” he said.

Since 2006, the Plano EDB has seen a consistent increase in the number of companies relocating to Plano. In 2006, 18 companies relocated to Plano followed by 22 in 2007.

“Just a year or two back, when employment was so low, there were problems with bringing in large employment deals because the new companies moving in are picking up workers from some of the surrounding companies,” Ellis said. “So it creates a problem sometimes for existing companies. The economy has changed where you are looking at employment opportunities for you[r] community; just in the last year that has changed dramatically.”

In March, Plano reported a 6.6 percent unemployment rate, which was lower than the county, state and country’s unemployment rates.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Marketing Team To Sell Valleys Economic Assets

With a deadline for the first request due Friday, the staff at this city’s economic development corporation spent the past week finalizing a proposal designed to bring new jobs to the region.

The request for proposals - aimed at a company looking to locate an advanced manufacturing plant somewhere in the country - was the first in a series of requests that should keep Rio Grande Valley economic development officials busy the next few weeks as they prepare site plans and presentations to try to attract new investment in their corner of the world.

The mock requests for proposals - similar to what officials would prepare when trying to draw a real company to the Valley - Marketing Strategy are part of a complete marketing effort designed to make the Valley more attractive to key industry targets.An economic development marketing team was hired last month to come up with a comprehensive, Valley-wide marketing strategy to draw more development to the region.

The strategy is the first major project for the Rio South Texas Economic Council, an alliance of local governments in all four Valley counties that was formed last year with the intent of expanding economic development efforts through a regional approach.

The mock exercise is a way for the marketing team to test the recruiting efforts of the local economic development officials while also gauging the assets of the region, said Ramiro Garza, the director of the Edinburg Economic Development Corp. Even though a winning proposal won’t draw anything more than a pat on the back in the short term, Garza said they’re treating the exercise like the real deal.

The plan is to develop a marketing strategy that operates first and foremost to draw large companies to the Valley by promoting it as a metropolitan area, said Bill Martin, the director of the Harlingen Economic Development Corp.To narrow down the types of industry the council should focus on, the marketing team will spend weeks compiling economic data, conducting interviews with companies already located in the Valley and touring the region.

Hidalgo County Judge J.D. Salinas, the chairman of the council, said the group’s members expect the marketing team to give them both the good news and the bad news about the area.When the requests for proposals are completed, Gemmen said, the economic council will have its own portfolio of shovel-ready sites it can use in its marketing efforts to help the Valley stand out among competitors from other regions.

Marketing Strategy A regional approach to economic development has become more common as areas such as South Texas have realized that corporations tend to ignore geographic boundary lines, said Audrey Taylor, the president of Chabin Concepts. The marketing team’s goal will be to package and position the Valley to key industries that should be looking at the area.

Sedgwick County seeks to attract industry with land plan

The Wichita Eagle

WICHITA - Chris Chronis left frustrated two weeks ago from a meeting of top local economic development dealmakers, called the transaction team.

Once again, he recalled thinking, an unidentified company had asked whether there was a good site for a large new factory. The team had submitted two locations but knew the sites in Sedgwick County just weren't good enough.

So when Chronis, Sedgwick County's chief financial officer, got back to the office, he came up with a plan for a giant industrial park. By that night, he had a deal.

In the next two weeks, Sedgwick County commissioners likely will vote on spending $14.3 million to buy 808 acres of land in Bel Aire and to put in roads and a railroad spur.

There is general support on the commission for the deal, although the commissioners delayed a vote on it Wednesday and want more details.

It's a rare serious attempt by local government to diversify the economy away from aircraft manufacturing and its vicious cycles. The park would be aimed at luring very large plants, upwards of 1,000 jobs or more, called "home runs" in economic development slang.

This park won't be for just one big plant, but multiple ones, Chronis said.

"This will be a home run park," he said.

The plan is to welcome only companies in the composites and alternative-energy fields, Chronis said. Those are industries that are growing and that Wichita has an edge in attracting, say economic development officials, although plans are far from final.

The hoped-for plants would be game-changers for the Wichita economy, he said. They would form the core of new industry clusters.

It will take years, he said. Only governments can afford to wait that long.

"The pot of gold will be worth it," Chronis said. More here.

Southwest Mississippi Unveils Regional Economic Development Plan

BUDE, Miss., April 23 /PRNewswire/ --

Southwest Mississippi is poised to attract a major new employer to the region in the next 12 to 14 months, it was announced Thursday.

Leaders of the Southwest Mississippi Partnership, a 10-county consortium of economic developers, business executives and local and state officials, unveiled a new economic development plan for the region that targets three industry areas -- biomass and bio fuel production from forest product residues, distribution centers, and food products and processing -- for future growth and job expansion.

The plan, developed by a 20-member task force comprised of representatives from Momentum Mississippi, the Mississippi Development Authority, local and state government and business leaders, Entergy Mississippi and the Electric Power Associations of Mississippi, concludes that the source most likely to create new jobs by 2010 will come from the region's massive timber resources.

Details of the plan were revealed at a Southwest Economic Development conference attended by 150 local state and elected officials, economic developers and business leaders on Wednesday at Okhissa Lake. The meeting featured presentations by Gray Swoope, executive director of the Mississippi Development Authority, and John Turner, economic development director of Entergy Mississippi and Carol Johnson, president of Atlanta-based Continuous Dialog and a noted economic development consultant.

"This is such a timber-rich region of our state," Swoope said. "Unfortunately, we are growing more timber than we are taking out of the forest - so there's an opportunity for biomass using wood products, wood pellets for renewables and the building industry as the economy starts to rebound."

Swoope said a critical success factor is promoting a public-private partnership among government leaders, business executives and economic developers in the region. "Franklin County by itself is only 8,000 people, but you start pulling in the other counties, you have a population closer to 250,000 people and you have the resources of that region to market to prospective employers." More here.

Firm Hired to Spur Site Development in Northeast Indiana

March 30, 2009 - The Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership has launched an aggressive site certification initiative in associate with professional site selection and economic development consulting firm, Strategic Development Group, Inc. The certification process will expand the inventory of development-ready sites in northeast Indiana, resulting in fast, efficient and risk-free development throughout the region.

Funded through a grant from the Northeast Indiana Foundation, Strategic Development Group will conduct a rigorous certification process over the next nine months to verify that key elements necessary for development such as the presence of utilities, sound environmental conditions and land control are present. The effort builds on a program spearheaded by Allen County and aligns with the "Shovel-Ready" site certification program initiated by the state of Indiana.

"The certification standards implemented through this process will create a distinct competitive advantage for Allen County and the northeast Indiana region," said Allen County Commissioner Bill Brown.

Local economic development organizations from northeast Indiana's 11-county region will have the opportunity to submit eligible properties for the certification process. Possessing these certified sites will increase the region's chances of success in attracting investment and jobs.

"Timelines for today's site searches are progressing more rapidly and site selectors are requesting readily available properties and information to promptly meet their agendas," said Bill Konhya, President and CEO of the Economic Development Group of Wabash County.

"Defining a clear set of standards that area sites should comply with enables every local economic development organization to better serve site selectors' immediate needs."

"Well prepared communities stand the best chance of moving forward in the site selection process and ensures northeast Indiana is ready to win competitive projects," said John Sampson, President and CEO of the Partnership.

"Establishing standard criteria for the region's industrial sites effectively positions northeast Indiana as a prime location to attract more quality jobs and investments from our target industries."

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Roundtable in the Rockies Marketing Presentations

Roundtable in the Rockies
Sonnenalp Resort of Vail
March 30 -- April 2, 2009

Expansion Management's Roundtable programs continue to be the premier source for education and networking in the Economic Development Industry. This unique forum allows attendees to connect directly with leading national site consultants.

Conference Presentations From Roundtable in the Rockies 2009:

Monday, March 30
9:15 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
Brad Lindquist, Deloitte
10:00 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.
Dan Foster, Duff & Phelps
11:00 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.
Jeff Forsythe, McCallum Sweeney Consulting
Wednesday, April 1
9:15 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
Brent Pollina, The Pollina Group
10:00 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.
Rajeev Thakur, NKF Consulting
11:00 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.
Saul Gomez, Ernst & Young
Thursday, April 2
9:15 a.m. – 10:05 a.m.
Dan Levine, MetroCompare
10:00 a.m. -- 10:45 a.m.
Chris Chmura & Leslie Peterson, Chmura Economics & Analytics

Jerusalem, the Brand

By Sean Silverthorne

Jerusalem, one of the world’s great historic cities and a crucible for Jewish, Muslim and Christian religions, is now looking to market itself to the world.

Working with Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter, Jerusalem’s new mayor, Nir Barkat, is developing a strategy to boost its struggling economy.

At a press conference at HBS on March 26, Barkat said the city wants to follow the basic Porter business strategy playbook: develop an economic plan around the area’s built-in competitive advantages.

In Jerusalem, those resources include unmatched history and culture, access to highly skilled workers in the life sciences, and outsourcing opportunities in the medical and financial services.
“Jerusalem’s never had an economic strategy,” Porter said. “It’s never had a systematic economic development campaign that’s strategic.”

“We have a 3,000 year old brand” that many companies and institutions would like to be associated with, said Barkat, a successful businessman before turning politician.

Welcome World

Tourism could be a huge development area, reflecting the ancient city’s religious and cultural contributions. Many people around the world have the desire to visit Jerusalem at least once in their lives, the mayor said, but only 2 million people actually make the trek each year — a very small number. He said he has support from the Israeli government as well as local religious and political leaders to develop and attract a range of tourism-based services.

New partnership will promote 4-county area in WV

Morgan, Hampshire, Berkeley, and Jefferson counties were recognized as the Western Potomac Economic Partnership in an executive order signed by Governor Joe Manchin on March 11.

“This will enable local governments to work together, as a region, to promote economic development opportunities, while highlighting our many benefits, like a low cost of living, natural beauty, nice people and a low crime rate,” Manchin said.

The partnership will help local governments better serve their customers and will educate others on why West Virginia is a great place to work and raise a family, Manchin said.

The Western Potomac Economic Partnership, or West-PEP, is a marketing effort to inform people about the positives of doing business in West Virginia and the Eastern Panhandle counties, said Matt Turner, the governor’s communications director.

The partnership gives a chance to sell people on the area’s value, its proximity to major metropolitan areas like Washington, D.C., and the local workforce. There are a number of national and international companies that want access to this market, Turner said.

“The new Western Potomac Economic Partnership is a cooperative effort to gain a competitive marketing advantage for our area in terms of economic development efforts that are targeted mainly to the metro area,” said Delegate Daryl Cowles. “We hope to draw jobs and business investment into our area from the trillion dollar economy of Washington D.C., Northern Virginia and Baltimore economy,” Cowles said.

The push to create the new economic partnership zone was led by State Senator Herb Snyder of Jefferson County, who worked closely with the governor’s office.

Region 9 Planning & Development Council will be the fiscal agent for West-PEP. The funding will come from local, state and private money, Cowles said. The West Virginia Development Office, the Gateway New Economy Council, county governments and other local government entities will be invited to participate in the effort and funding.

Cowles is excited about the commitment of Governor Manchin to showcase West Virginia as a preferred place of business. “The creation of the Western Potomac Economic Partnership is a beginning of a new cooperative effort to attract jobs and investment to the four-county region,” Cowles said.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Seneca Pursues Branding Initiative

SENECA – The village is looking for its own special brand to establish a unique identity.

“A strategic marketing plan to help attract new industry, business, and tourism,” noted Mark Ellis, spokesman for the Seneca Development Organization, which is promoting adoption of a community brand to help boost the village’s sales tax revenue.

“Branding our community and successfully marketing ourselves toward business and industrial development and tourism, will show our strengths, such as Woodsmoke Ranch, the Illinois River, our great schools, marinas, and the many industrial opportunities we have available.”

Ellis presented the SDO’s idea Tuesday evening to the Seneca Village Council, saying the logo and tagline would be used by the municipality and organizations, and incorporated in letterheads, business cards, Web sites, brochures, and signs.

“A fully developed logo and tagline will help encourage economic development, new residents, new businesses, tourism, and help unify our purpose,” he said.

Ellis said the SDO would serve as the brand committee, then present the developed logo and tagline to the village council for acceptance.

Mayor David Spicer said he found the village had a logo more than 30 years ago. He also told Ellis he did not want to decide whether the SDO should research the change. Instead, he said, the whole council should take part in the decision.

“I don’t have a problem with making the change if the council agrees,” he said. “I do not want to make that decision on my own.”

Ellis said the logo and tagline would also be used on promotional items, merchandise, and giftware. The SDO will sell these items to raise funds for community projects.

“A community brand is what people say about you when you’re not around,” he told the council. “This is true, whether you’re talking about the brand of a city, region, community, or municipality. Branding is the process a city, region, community, or municipality embarks upon to change, refine, or improve what people are saying about them.”

A community brand technically is a mixture of attributes that create value and influence. Community brands help consumers, residents, businesses and tourists distinguish individual communities.Some brands focus strictly on economic development – a primary industry, for example, while others feature and identify that which appeals to businesses and site selectors.

“Branding is a highly effective form of economic development marketing because the entire community becomes a medium for showcasing its business benefits,” Ellis noted.

He presented the council with 24 examples of logos and taglines representing cities across the United States. Included was the tagline “We’re More Than Ore” used by Hibbing, Minn., and the circle brand by the cities of Shreveport and Bossier with the tagline, “Louisiana’s Other Side.”

Also, that of Grand Rapids, which reads “It’s in Minnesota’s Nature,” and by which reads, “Alaska Starts Here.” “Local Flavor, Global Vision,” is the tagline for Sebastopol, Calif. Beaumont, Texas, adopted the tagline, “Rich With Opportunity.”Commissioner Randy Timmons said he believed the SDO should be given opportunity to devise a logo and tagline unique to Seneca.

“It’s a learning experience to me,” Commissioner Mark Victor said. “Give them a chance to see what they come up with.”

Ellis said the SDO may present more than one logo and tagline from which the council could choose.

“You have our permission to proceed,” Spicer said. “And hopefully, come up with something that will smack us off our feet.”

Copyright © 2009 Morris Daily Herald. All rights reserved.

Rivalry to be economic King of South heats up

By Dan Chapman
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Sunday, May 10, 2009

CHARLOTTE — From his 15th floor City Hall aerie, Mayor Pat McCrory sees what Atlanta’s missing.

To his left sits the soon-to-be-completed NASCAR Hall of Fame. Straight ahead is the headquarters for GMAC Financial Services. And, running up the spine of this slim and sleek city, rolls a Euro-sleek light-rail train.

Atlanta offered big bucks for NASCAR, tried to land GMAC and has suffered a long, unrequited romance with light rail. Charlotte, like a feisty, undersized boxer, punches above its weight.

“We could’ve easily become a Knoxville, Greensboro or Richmond,” McCrory said. “Instead we compete, fortunately, with Denver, Dallas and Atlanta.”

Charlotte, the Queen City, maintains pretensions of one day surpassing Atlanta as economic King of the South. Sam Williams, head of Atlanta’s Chamber of Commerce, says dream on.

“We don’t really compete tooth-and-nail with Charlotte because the companies we go after (are) in the international trade, logistics and biomedical fields and they’re not looking to go to Charlotte,” he said. “Dallas, Tampa and northern Virginia — those are our consistent competitors.”

But some observers say recent missteps by Atlanta — over traffic, transit, water, the environment and politics — may enhance Charlotte’s position.

Nothing underscores Atlanta’s angst like the state legislature’s refusal last month to let the region decide its transportation fate. A traffic-choked Atlanta threatens to repel businesses and individuals. Growth could slow to a crawl.

“We’ve had the opportunity to learn from Atlanta’s mistakes,” McCrory said in a recent interview. “We’ve seen how to grow and how not to grow. We’ve seen what works and what doesn’t. We’ve had the advantage of growing up second.”

And, for the foreseeable future, that’s where Charlotte will remain. More here.

Schumer: Yahoo eyeing WNY for data center

Business First of Buffalo - by James Fink Business First

New York Sen. Charles Schumer said talks with Internet giant Yahoo are progressing far enough that he feels confident the Western New York region will be successful in its bid to land the company’s Northeast data center.

“This is not a done deal,” Schumer said Sunday morning during an impromptu press conference at Prior Aviation. “But it is looking very, very good.”

State and local economic development officials have been quietly courting Yahoo since late last fall in the hopes of getting the data center, which would service all of the Northeast. The center is expected to employ between 50 and 100 people, initially.

Several sites in Niagara, Orleans and Genesee Counties are under consideration - but none in Erie County.

Western New York is not alone.

Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Illinois are also making offers to Yahoo.

The center could be as large as 60,000 square feet with room to expand in the future.

Schumer has had direct meetings and conversations with Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz to specifically pitch Western New York as the site for the data center. Yahoo recently announced plans to build a 150,000-square-foot, $100 million regional data center in Nebraska.

A handsome incentive package is being crafted by state and local economic development officials, with one of the keys being the provision of six to eight megawatts of low-cost hydropower from the New York Power Authority. Gov. David Paterson, late Friday, demanded that NYPA offer the low-cost hydropower. The authority may consider the making the offer when its directors meet this week.

Several factors may be working in Western New York’s favor including the strength of the local workforce, the region’s inexpensive development costs, the success back office facilities like those that service Geico and CitiGroup have had in the region, the low-cost hydropower offer and, the cool, temperate weather.

“They are not going to Texas or Florida or even staying in California,” Schumer said. “Our cool temperatures have become a major asset.”

If the Yahoo center ends up in Western New York, it could be a major economic development coup for the region. That decision will catch the eyes of corporate site selectors and ramp up the region's position on their radar screens.

“A company like Yahoo will be a beacon to other high-tech companies,” Schumer said. “It sends out a strong signal. Other companies will take notice.”

Medtronic picks San Antonio over Johnson County

The Kansas City Star

Medtronic Inc. on Monday picked San Antonio over Johnson County for a 1,400-employee diabetes support facility, lured by a $14 million public incentive package that included $6 million in cash.

The Minnesota-based firm had reviewed sites in Overland Park and Lenexa, including the former Applebee’s headquarters on Renner Boulevard. But Texas state and local officials came though with an offer it couldn’t refuse, officials said in a statement.

“By expanding their diabetes division in San Antonio, I believe that Medtronic is sending a clear message that the core strength of Texas’ economy, built on our low taxes, fair legal system and predictable regulatory climate,” makes the state attractive to companies and their employees, Gov. Rick Perry said.

“These factors, combined with our quality work force and a $6 million investment from the Texas Enterprise Fund, make it possible for us to make (the) announcement about more jobs for Texans.”

Officials at the Kansas City Area Development Council and Kansas Department of Commerce, which had lobbied the medical firm to locate its operations here, could not be reached for comment.

The Medtronic Diabetes Therapy Management and Education Center is expected to employ a mostly college-educated work force, and its functions will include customer service and sales support.

The economic benefit to the San Antonio area was estimated at $750 million by San Antonio Economic Development Foundation.

“This is one of the largest economic development projects in the United States this year, with nearly 1,400 jobs anticipated,” said Randy Cain, chairman of the foundation.

The $6 million state grant was described by the foundation as being an “important factor” in Medtronic’s decision.

© 2009 Kansas City Star and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.