March 26th, 2012 by Kenny McDonald
We all work hard and care about economic development because it is a way to create better quality of life for our friends, neighbors, and future generations. It is not enough. It isn’t enough to create a dynamic economy, or to have beautiful parks, public art, and inspiring cultural amenities. It isn’t enough to have schools that rank well and a burgeoning international community. It is only enough when our most vulnerable feel safe, have fair opportunities for success, and the whole becomes greater than its parts. Acts of violence, hatred and even subtle acts of prejudice created out of a sense of fear have no place in healthy communities.
Economic development is the practice of creating a sense of abundance in our communities – the intentional act of making the economic pie bigger so that more people have access to shelter, security and a better life. Nonsensical acts like those in Florida last month and across the world each day will likely always occur, but the act of reaching out, of providing a helping hand, often in the form of economic opportunity, can alleviate some of these senseless acts and make the world a better place. Let’s commit to working harder to create a sense of hope and abundance throughout each and every community.
Columbus 2020 Update
Here we come New Orleans! We are so proud of our Ohio State Buckeyes for their achievement of reaching the Final Four. What a great way to showcase the whole university and the Columbus Region to the world. President Obama was at Ohio State this past week talking energy and learning about some of the great research going on right here in Columbus (he also picked The Ohio State University for the Final Four). Similarly, Licking County dedicated an entire day to understanding the economic opportunities being created by the rapid expansion in the oil and gas industry in Ohio. I applaud Rick Platt from the Licking County Port Authority and Central Ohio Technical College for putting on an informative event. Glad to be a part of it. We also applaud the efforts of the City of Columbus and several surrounding communities to work together so that the process of finding sites and understanding local programming makes more sense for both the private sector and local governments.
Finally, I want to welcome home, at least for a few days, Deb Scherer from the 2020 team. She has been in India speaking with dozens of growing companies considering the U.S. market, and deepening relationships with the business community in India established during 2011’s trip with Franklin County and Commissioner O’Grady.
Let’s keep up the great work. Only two more to go Buckeyes!!
March 19th, 2012 by Kenny McDonald
There’s no good idea that can’t be improved on.
I’ve touched on workforce a lot lately because it is an economic development topic that requires persistent action and improvement. Let us now return to our old friend – economic incentives. A recent article in Area Development touched on the subject very well. The debate between providing incentives to new and expanding companies vs. providing incentives to start and grow “local” companies has a long history.
I think it is a bit of a false argument, that states and communities should undergo a regular process to investigate whether all of the incentives that they offer for all types of business are working or not. Whether it is the services provided to companies through a process called economic gardening or the provision of incentive to growing companies, the answers are usually not very clear and require thoughtful discussion and analysis. Some incentives work, but take time to have an impact. Others may work well, but have unintended consequences. On top of that, what works in one region may not work well for another.
I strongly believe that communities that understand that tax and government financing incentives are direct tools that must be used appropriately, but that the strongest incentives go well beyond that in a modern economy. Growing companies in a dynamic world economy require communities to invest and prepare the physical environment and the workforce, to advocate for smart economic policies that help their industries to grow, to tax them fairly, and to work with them to attract and retain talent.
With the many competing interests of strained government resources it will always be a challenge to offer the complete package for every type of company, but it is a goal well worth pursuing.
This week Columbus2020’s team returns from India having met with a number of growing companies and having strengthened international relationships in and important part of the world economy. Thanks to Deb Scherer for all of her hard work and due diligence.
Our team also hosted allies and investors at this weekend’s NCAA tournament at Nationwide Arena. Thanks to all that attended. Finally – congrats to our Ohio State Buckeyes for having advanced to the Sweet 16. Go Bucks!
March 12th, 2012 by Kenny McDonald
Last week’s investor update focused on Ohio’s revamping of its workforce development/training system. The message – our system has become too complex for its customers (employers and job seekers), and it is an urgent and strategically important component of our economic development system. Message received. Our team can testify that talent and workforce development is at the top of our client’s priority list.
Let me give you an extreme example of how the economic development community is dealing with this issue. Rapid City, South Dakota, a growing city near the Bakkan Oil Reserves, has started to recruit workers or “harvest talent” from other states. This is nothing new, but its formality of the effort is. Western South Dakota is a sparsely populated area that is growing fast. Reports are that in Williston, North Dakota, the epicenter of the oil boom in that area of the country, McDonald’s is offering starting wages of $18/hr.
So, let’s bring this back to Ohio and other parts of the country that have large population centers and are starting to inch back to positive, healthy economic growth. What do we think of this? Do we want other regions to harvest our talent? Given our growing demand and the demographic changes we are seeing within our workforce – we need to nurture our crop of talent with extreme care, regularly rotate our crops so that we have a sustainable future, and we need to diversify so that we are not overly dependent on one sector or demographic.
All of the notes above point to a new phase of economic development which will include an unrelenting war for talent – the human capital necessary for companies to innovate, grow and prosper. This challenge is as fascinating as it is hard; thankfully we have great people throughout our state and our Region working on this problem.
Update First, The Ohio State University is in India this week (follow @presidentgee). Our team is also there meeting with growing companies with plans for the U.S. market. Our team is also traveling to Texas to speak with companies and location advisors this week with a group of our Region’s communities. Finally, we will be hosting business leaders and site location advisors at the first round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament here in Columbus at Nationwide Arena. Busy week!
March 5th, 2012 by Kenny McDonald
Defense may win championships, but it is no way to build an economy. The USA, Ohio, and the Columbus Region are well served to take measured risks to advance the economy. It appears this is happening as Ohio’s unemployment declines, the oil and gas industry continues to expand, and companies begin to invest in plants, equipment, and current and future employees.
Two reports last week point firmly to Ohio’s strength. The Tax Foundation and KPMG ranked states in a variety of ways and industries last week. Ohio ranks 5th in this very interesting study, proof that the tax reform of the last four years has broadened the tax base and softened corporate taxes.
Site Selection Magazine released its state ranking last week as well. Ohio ranked #1 in this annual ranking of economic activity. While the overall ranking is great recognition, it is also interesting that Ohio led the 2011 Top States with the most “micropolitan” category with 18 small cities listed on that ranking. That is a good indication that Ohio is getting healthier and not just only in its major cities.
These rankings are not perfect, but they show that going on offense – you can increase your economic activity, and in turn, improve the health of your economy. This means relentless outreach to existing companies, marketing to growing companies, and creating a dynamic environment by which small businesses can innovate and grow and large companies can prosper. Let’s stay on offense.
Columbus 2020 Update
First, let me remark that our hearts go out to those families in the City of Chardon for the terrible tragedy they are living through in Northeast Ohio. Second, may we all keep those communities destroyed by natural disaster all across the Midwest and South in our thoughts and prayers – may they return stronger and healthier from these terrible storms.
Internally the Columbus2020 team has five companies visiting the Region this week. Deb Scherer is preparing to travel to India for nearly two weeks along with The Ohio State University’s delegation. The team expects to have 20-25 visits on the trip. We hope that these missions continue to create value for our Region by developing qualified business opportunities for our 11-country Region.