A Valuable Contribution

February 20, 2012

I am very fortunate to lead a team of economic development professionals and interact with peers statewide, nationally and internationally. These professionals come from different backgrounds and often work on very different pieces of the economic development system (community development, workforce training, business attraction, financing, etc.).  They are knowledgeable, motivated, and they truly enjoy helping to move their economies forward.

Connecting people may be their most valuable contribution to their communities, however, it could be connecting a job seeker with a training program. It could be connecting a start-up company with a potential customer, or it could be connecting industry association officials with policy makers to discuss legislation. People that get things done are an economic developer’s most valuable asset, and they make a valuable contribution by using their networks to move things through an often confusing system of programs and processes.

They must nurture their “rolodex” with care and feed it regularly. Our computers, phones and other devices are full of these contacts, and social media has exploded our ability to track and follow where and what people are doing (sometimes a little too much). All of this technology does not replace the need to touch your network regularly and with care – but it can enhance it if used properly. To this end, we remind you to reach out to an old friend, business associate or company you’ve not talked to in a while this week. Let’s see what happens…

We also invite you to join our network and to stay in touch by following the team and me on twitter, @CBUSRegion and @KennyMcDon, and LinkedIn.

One Columbus Update
Our team will be in the Pacific Northwest this week and was in New York last night at the Columbus Blue Jackets / New York Rangers game entertaining clients. Thanks to the Blue Jackets for all of their support! Congratulations to the City of Columbus and all of the great organizations, volunteers and people behind the scenes that made last week’s celebration of Columbus’s 200th birthday such a great success – more to come throughout 2012!

Many of you have received a note I sent last week as an update of some great progress we’re making, but in case you missed it:

We have experienced some technical difficulties this week, so this message is coming later than I had planned. However, we’ve had a great week in the Columbus Region and I wanted to provide you with some insight into what your investment and engagement in the Columbus2020 regional growth strategy are doing to impact this Region. In short – A LOT.

Yesterday in Obetz one of the fastest growing companies in the U.S., Zulily, announced that they were well on their way to create hundreds of jobs and expand their company. Within eight short weeks they have brought their logistics facility to Obetz and more than 200 people are employed by this e-commerce company with the promise that over 500 new jobs will be in the Region within three years. Their CEO, Darrell Cavens, and Governor John Kasich cut the ribbon on their facility among cheering employees, many of which had been out of work before this opportunity arrived. The City of Obetz, JobsOhio, and our entire Region should be proud of this announcement.

Tuesday, Japanese automotive supplier Yachiyo, announced their expansion in Marion. Yachiyo now employs over 200 people in our Region and is a great example of the impact that Honda and their supply chain continues to have in our Region.

Today, Cabella’s announced that they will build an 80,000-square-foot store in Delaware County (their first in Ohio). Cabella’s is a retailer that generates a lot of activity and is a coveted win – it is sure to become a state destination.

Monday we released the Columbus Region’s 4th Quarter Economic Report and our January 2012 Monthly Update. I think you will find that the report is balanced and provides a number of different angles from which to look at our economy. A few notes, our unemployment rate continues to move lower, which is good news, but there are still too many talented people out of work or underemployed. Our assessment: Things are getting better, but there are roadblocks ahead. This was the subject of this week’s blog post. Please see here the latest Economic Development Matters blog posts that did not go out due to technical issues. We apologize and hope that you will find time to read these updates each Monday.

Finally, we hope that you will make time to come to our March 8th Q1 Investor Update. We will have Rich Frederick, who is leading Governor Kasich’s team to revamp our workforce development/training system statewide. It promises to be an insightful presentation and a subject that is at the heart of the Columbus Region’s economic development success. Registration here. Hope to see you there!

-Kenny McDonald