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When the Game Changes

[Why didn’t you go for two?]
“Because I couldn’t go for three.”
-Woody Hayes

The games of football, baseball, and basketball have all changed. Rule tweaks, the athleticism of players, and perhaps even changes to please TV viewers have caused games to be faster, have more offense and require adjustments by coaches in how they approach the game.

The game is also changing in economic development. First, the game moves faster. Decisions are often made quickly and more information is available to everyone. Businesses know more about communities and states, and in return they know more about the businesses. This transparency leads to accelerated and hopefully more informed decisions.

Second, more points are required to win. It used to be that if a major company was recruited to an area, it was likely stable for a while. That’s no longer the case. Businesses and business models change so often that it is more and more necessary to have a comprehensive strategy to “put points on the board.” That means your community must work on growing its existing companies and helping them expand and remain competitive. It also means that the community has to have an innovation strategy to help companies, institutions and entrepreneurs flourish. Without these elements, your team will suffer from a lack of economic diversity.

Finally, it really is all about talent. Economic growth requires a talented, diverse workforce in order for companies to innovate and sell their goods and services. It also requires a talented team at the community level. Professional economic development teams at the local, regional and state levels are no longer a luxury. Business and government must work together to make things happen, with the right tools and direction to thrive.

As the game continues to change and we look to the future, let us embrace change and look for creative ways to score points and lift our communities.

-Kenny McDonald

Columbus 2020 Update