Back to the Basics

January 4, 2016

It all comes back to the basics. Serve customers the best-tasting food at a good value in a clean, comfortable restaurant, and they’ll keep coming back.
-Dave Thomas, founder of Wendy’s, one of the Columbus Region’s 15 Fortune 1000 headquarters

This first note of the year is aimed at and for economic developers, although it may also apply to the many allies who invest in economic development organizations. Here are a few priorities to consider in 2016:

First, give back. Perhaps you can point to one or more individuals who lifted you up some time ago. Economic development is a wonderful profession and offers so many diverse career options. Share your story with students and young professionals and provide them with opportunities.

Second, focus on learning more about our economy and the communities within it. Really examine it with new eyes. Cut through the political and economic punditry and ask the tough questions about competitiveness and conditions for economic growth. What is driving jobs and investment to and from your community? How are socioeconomic changes and challenges likely to impact the community, region, state? What one event could singlehandedly turn your world upside down?

Third, focus on the fundamentals and test whether your services and programs are matching opportunities and challenges. Are they best in class? What is falling through the cracks? What could you improve with simple effort and focus?

Finally, celebrate and invest in success. We all know that there is no “goal line” in economic development, so celebrate expansions as well as new locations, celebrate programmatic progress, and celebrate the individual and organizational success of economic developers. Invest in those areas where you are strong and could get even better. Invest in the people and organizations that make progress possible.

2016 will likely be a wild ride. Saddle up!

-Kenny McDonald