Boots on the Ground

July 23, 2018

“We need to learn to set our course by the stars, not by the lights of every passing ship.” – Omar Bradley

We’re fortunate to be living through a period of long-term prosperity in our country. It has been hard-earned by leaders that have prudently and shrewdly positioned the United States, our cities, and our states for success decade after decade. Knowing that, a growing economy creates the revenue to build infrastructure and the necessary safety nets for citizens, fuels innovation, and generates capital that can be invested in new businesses.

Economic success can lead to arrogance and complacency. This can happen as a nation, and it can happen at the local level as well. Complacency is the enemy of growth, innovation, and collaboration and it can quickly turn competitive advantages into disadvantages. Partially because of the technologies that have been created from our fertile economy, the world is getting even more competitive.

We’re living in an era of change for sure. We have perhaps more tools than ever before to access the economy, the impact of public policies, and socio-economic programs. All of these tools are valuable, but do not supersede the need to simply visit communities, speak to the workforce, and have dialogue with local leaders of business and governments.

Nor does it supplant the need to speak to the professional economic development organizations working every day to help entrepreneurs start new enterprises, expand their operations, hire and train a workforce, and locate and build new facilities. The boots on the ground perspective will always make sense of good data and cause questionable data to be exposed. This activity is the indispensable act required to build a better long-term strategy, and it must be done consistently and with a careful ear.

As we begin to think about our next decade, to look at the data, and to examine the environment in which we now live, we should include as many perspectives as possible. This diversity of viewpoints will strengthen any plan, even those that have been the most successful. Strategies must pair data with on-the-ground realities of businesses, academia, government, and of course the workforce, both young and experienced. My plea today is that it also include the perspective of the professional economic developer. Taken alone, that perspective is not enough. Paired with good data and the views of stakeholders, the economic developer’s knowledge is both powerful and practical.

I would like to thank our local economic development community and the Mid-Ohio Development Exchange for their time, energy, and expertise in our efforts to grow the Columbus Region. I would like to thank them for their advice, their partnership, and their daily work. We look forward to meeting the challenges of the present day and planning for the future shoulder-to-shoulder with each of them. Together we can have a collective impact much greater than if we stood alone.

-Kenny McDonald

One Columbus Update

  • This week, the One Columbus team is hosting companies considering the Columbus Region.
  • We look forward to seeing One Columbus investors at the One Columbus Investor Update and Summer Social on August 22!