“Numbers have an important story to tell. They rely on you to give them a clear and convincing voice.”
There is a tendency in today’s world to judge success and failure on small snippets of information – the highlight reel, the tweet, the soundbite. In economic development, that is often the top-of-the-fold community win, jobs numbers and golden shovel ceremonies. These are all worth celebration. I’ll be the first to say that economic development must be oriented to deliver real results and a tangible return on investment, but I hope we can look deeper into what causes both successes and challenges in 2019.
Just like a home run, incredible touchdown catch or slam dunk, job announcements catch your attention but may not determine whether you are really winning the game or not. A larger set of metrics needs to be monitored and discussed to determine if you are really moving forward. Not only should the overall well-being of the population be measured, but specific groups within the market as well. Is your work changing lives, neighborhoods or giving a boost to a rural area’s economy? A broader set of numbers can show us correlations, confront inequities and cause honest conversations to take place that ultimately lead to better results.
How do you do it? First, define your dashboard of metrics to measure and commit to measuring them over the long-term 3-5-10 years. Second, take time to celebrate the victories (the home runs and the slam dunks), but always use these to bring up the larger, underlying topics. Never leave the conversation without drawing attention to the bigger goal. Finally, find unique ways to draw attention to that goal so your entire community is drawn towards the cause. Economic development often defines the goal, but is only a contributor to solving the issues that impact it. By drawing others to the cause, you will find your partners in education, transportation and policy will begin to discuss ways in which they can contribute and solve for the same problems.
Let’s have a great week!