“I have always believed that process is more important than results.”
In the locker room of the championship team, amidst all the spraying of champagne and joyous celebrations, you will often hear a reporter ask the coach or the star players their thoughts. Almost always they will refer to the process or the journey they committed to in the months or even years leading up to this point. The championships are recorded as results in the history books, as are all the wins and losses for the year.
I use that analogy to remind everyone that economic development is a process, led by economic development practitioners, that leads to outcomes. Wins and losses are often recorded by reporting on project outcomes, investment numbers, businesses created, etc. What is not recorded as often is the “win” of a stable/growing tax base, funding for school districts, businesses improved through the connection of workforce and research and development assets in your community, and the funding of new or improved infrastructure. Those outcomes are not often attributed to economic growth but are completely reliant upon it and the economic development process that produces it.
The economic development process is represented of the journey referred to above. It requires engagement with elected leaders, policy makers, citizens, businesses both small and large, and cross-sector relationship building. The process is tough and requires time and resources, but it is the only pathway to the public outcomes you desire. There are no shortcuts to the winning locker room. The communities, regions, and states that commit to the economic development process, invest in it over the long-term and are undeterred by the short-term challenges can expect great rewards.