“Pressure makes diamonds.”
-George S. Patton, Jr.
The “stress test” took on a new meaning after the Great Recession in 2008-2009. The idea that we needed to test whether institutions have capital and capacity to withstand shocks to the system was not new. The recession was a reminder that critical institutions must be pressure tested to determine if they can stand tough times or unexpected surges of opportunity.
Is your community’s economic development program stress tested? Can it withstand shocks to the system? Can it respond to opportunities of large scale that appear and disappear quickly? Is it built around a single leader or small group of investors?
We must believe that economic development organizations are mission critical institutions, not luxuries. The rule has been to provide just enough resources and a limited number of people to work on strengthening the economy of a given area or state. But, we must realize that most economic development organizations — and therefore communities — have several fissures that would burst when pressure tested.
To pass the pressure test, an economic development organization should have:
- A clear strategic framework to guide direction in a dynamic, rapidly changing world.
- A clear strategic framework that would not require fundamental changes if a major source of funding or community employer is lost.
- Long-term, diversified financial resources to withstand economic cycles.
- Professionally trained people who are paid competitively and have long-term commitment to the organization and the community.
- Ability to scale opportunities and pursue projects to grow the community.
I’m not advocating more stress for economic developers; we have plenty of that daily. Rather, we should undertake an annual exercise to identify and patch fissures in our organizations, so that the important work not be disrupted when problems and opportunities emerge.
One Columbus Update
- This week, the One Columbus team is hosting companies evaluating the Columbus Region.
- Next week, our team will travel to New York City for PLASTEC East 2017 and City Nation Place Americas.
- NEW RESOURCE! One Columbus and Dispatch Media Group have released the Columbus Region Relocation Guide. It’s a jumping off point for new and potential residents, with more than 80 pages of tips, information and advice to help newcomers. The guide is available in print and online.