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A New Adirondack Economic Development Model?

October 14, 2012 - Ernest Hohmeyer
Every 30 years it seems we need to get rid of our old business development policy. If that is the case we may need to revisit our grass-roots economic development efforts.

Industrial recruitment has been around for over 50 years and community based economic development for nearly 30 years in the Park. Both this “top-down” approach and “bottom-up” local strategy has not reversed our economic plight as much as we would like.

Just like any business, we need to constantly evaluate and change our approaches. Do any of our businesses operate the same way they did 30 years ago?

Perhaps it’s been too long since we had a discussion on Park economic development approaches. We have talked about “what” we want “sustainable communities” but the “how we get there” is canvassed in models that may no longer be valid.

Communities are no longer king of the business development world. No political sub-division is. The new kid on the block does not care about borders or personalities. It only cares about one thing: information. Information that is complete, accurate, to the point and instantaneously responsive. It is brutally honest with its callous cyberspace assessment of what you offer versus some other location. This information is becoming increasingly targeted.

Even in the tourism field, long stereotyped by “simple” retail shops and just-hang-out-a-sign-and- they-will-flock-to-your-door motels, has changed dramatically. Keeping up with mobile web sites, updating new content daily, staying on top of Google search engines, increasingly personalized marketing has resulted in an interest by our communities to regionalize our tourism efforts.

Perhaps we need to think the same way for attracting jobs.

On a local economic development front, you have many fine organizations all involved in some capacity to attract business: multiple chambers, local development corporations, grass-roots organizations, municipal business parks, downtown revitalization efforts and volunteer marketing groups.

On the county side, there are IDA’s, LDC’s, agriculture, employment & training, tourism, etc.

Then you split these various efforts into multiple business targets such as tourism, biotech, back-office, manufacturing, wood products, retail, etc.

And you get the idea there are a lot of cooks in the kitchen.

Can we bring these 2 worlds together? Can we create a new business development model based on today’s king: information?

An Economic Development Policy of Connectivity?

Here is an example of how it might work in the Tri-lakes and Franklin County:

Organize A county-wide economic council is formed. Each of the county’s development efforts are put on the Council.

Local economic development groups are asked to join in.

Communicate An agenda is set for an exchange of information on local and county projects with a focus on how we can help each other.

Coordinate 1. A coordinated system of resources is created to help with projects. 2. The group develops a system of “ambassadors” for business outreach.

Unified Strategy 1. There are various county development agencies with specific agendas. 2. There are numerous community efforts, some that overlap with one another 3. There is an opportunity to create a proactive overall strategy

Going after Jobs

But here is the real advantage of this unified and coordinated effort: harnessing information.

Our businesses need to link today to compete. If we are to compete in the cut-throat world of going after jobs, we may need to link our efforts as well. There are 4 ways we can do this:

1. Sharing 1 information platform with 1 coordinated business development strategy 2. One common business assistance application form 3. On-line & real time “ambassador team” that can mobilize quickly 4. Create a united business development marketing campaign

And we need not roll our eyes with “Oh no not another meeting or organization.” We should take our fight in the new information economy to them: cyberspace. The beauty of that is we can do most of effort on-line. To do this effectively though, we need to “connect” to each other and use our individual resources in a coordinated and strategic manner.

We are seeking to regionalize our tourism efforts.

We may need to do the same with our job seeking programs.


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