January 8, 2024


Build a culture that rewards—not punishes— people for getting problems into the open where they can be solved.” – Ben Horowitz

Everything is changing. We are in uncharted territory. There will likely be more change in the next five years than the past 50. So, what can we depend on to be steady or constant? I ran across the book Same As Ever, A Guide to What Never Changes, over the holiday and I highly suggest it for the economic developers and civic leaders that receive this note. There are many small gifts in this book, but I’ll focus on just one to begin the year.

The chapter that resonated with me the most was entitled It’s Supposed to be Hard. Let’s face it, we live in an age of instant gratification. If we want news, we simply look down in the palm of our hand. If we want food, we can stop at the next intersection. If we want validation of our beliefs, we can simply look at whatever media stream we follow.

Creating jobs, attracting investment, and building up healthy communities does not lend itself to instant gratification. The complex, hard work of economic development takes time, requires patience, and will certainly include small successes, and failures, on the path to our goals. The communities that not only understand that but embrace this view will get to their goals sooner than those that seek instant gratification.

Let us begin the hard work of developing opportunities by working with businesses small and large, by partnering with government and community leaders to build infrastructure & create a strong environment for investment, and aligning our workforce & education partners to ensure that these opportunities translate to life changing full-time jobs for the ambitious people that we serve.

Let us plan for both success and failure so we can build up systems that are agile enough to change course while stubbornly sticking to our values and the principles of our individual strategies. Let us accept that technology, business models, and the economic conditions will change on our path.  Sometimes this will make things easier but most of the time we will have to take a small detour to adjust and to keep moving forward.

Finally, let us lift each other up and move forward together this week and all year long!

Kenny McDonaldPresident and CEOColumbus Partnership