June 24, 2024


“When we make choices, we change the future.”
– Brandon Mull

Economic Development, or rather the constant development and diversification of your economy, has a litany of benefits that we’ve discussed in this note for years. Occasionally we need to zoom out to see the bigger picture and be reminded of its most fundamental benefits. Communities that are creating new private sector jobs, generating a diverse portfolio of revenue sources, and securing capital investment simply have better choices than those who are not doing all those things. The biggest decisions faced by thriving communities are often between two or more good choices. The biggest choices of declining communities are the lesser of two evils.

Part of an economic development organization’s responsibilities include helping stakeholders understand the need to invest in the everyday work and the staff required to get it done and advance the community. It can be a hard job as elected officials, civic leaders, and businesses are constantly changing and come with different perspectives. Some want tech growth, while some want jobs created in challenging neighborhoods, and others want to land the big fish and raise the profile of the market. These are all worthy objectives, and there are a hundred more examples that we could cite.

Our responsibility is to respond to each of these perspectives and build plans that satisfy your local needs and unique situations. However, I urge you to ask a simple question – do we want to develop the opportunity to make better choices or let the world decide our fate and pick between lesser evils? If we want the former, then we must think long-term, invest in professional staff, and give them the budget necessary to develop and diversify our economy each and every day. While such an effort doesn’t guarantee success, we greatly reduce the possibility of being forced into the untenable situation of choosing between the bad and the worse.

This week let us make the hard choice to invest and commit to the long-term wins and the opportunity to make better choices. Let’s continue to lift each other up and move forward together.

Kenny McDonaldPresident and CEOColumbus Partnership