“I follow three rules: Do the right thing, do the best you can, and always show people you care.”
Economic developers’ work is driven by projects. Community development projects, projects to help companies expand, and headline-grabbing business attraction projects, to name a few.
While these projects are often the focus, it is also important to remember that behind every project are people and personalities who make them special. There is a science of evaluating communities, real estate and talent pools, but the process is also influenced by the unique culture and built-in biases of individuals or small teams that have been assigned to select a location or expand their business. That is a good thing.
And just like every company has a history, every project has a story. It is often the twists and turns and unexpected roads taken that make a project special. While this is often talked about within the circle of trust between economic developers, professional location consultants and community leaders, few others know the story behind how projects were brought to life in the downtowns and business parks of our communities.
If you’re an economic developer, reach out to a company that’s expanding in your community to inquire about how it’s going, ask if their analysis matched the outcome (for better or worse), and where those who selected the sites are now that others have taken the reigns of the facility.
If you’re a company leader who has been involved in such a project, reach out to the economic development team, consultants and others involved who helped make the facility a reality. So often, they lose touch with the outcome of the project. Show them the lives your company has changed. What turned out better than expected, and what didn’t work?
People are behind every project and every decision. People ultimately choose the location, and people turn these decisions into living, breathing workplaces.
This week, let’s make it about the people behind the projects.