The Economic Developer’s Agenda

October 27, 2014

Last week, a number of us from the Columbus Region were fortunate to attend the International Economic Development Council’s annual conference in Fort Worth, Texas. It provides an interesting look at what is “on the agenda” for communities. That is, the things that economic development groups are concentrating on and the challenges they are facing in delivering services for states, cities and communities.

For me there were three clear themes. First, like many industries, there is the search to bring talented young people into the economic development profession. In a rapidly changing world, it is ever more important to have representatives from younger generations to better serve and understand clients and communities. How do we transform our organizations so that they not only challenge young minds, but keep them engaged so that they commit to the profession and develop the experience to serve their areas for decades to come?

Second was the development of global skills to work in our current economy. How do we help companies grow through international expansion and exporting? How do we attract investment from foreign-owned companies? How do we build a globally competitive workforce? JPMorgan Chase provided a grant to help in these areas in their continuing commitment to economic development. Ambassador Vinai Thummalapally from SelectUSA addressed the conference about these issues, as did Assistant Secretary Jay Williams of the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

Finally, it was all about workforce. The demographic changes facing our country are causing challenges for employers and a once-in-a-generation opportunity to develop smarter solutions and to align our education, workforce development, and economic development goals at a local and national level. The challenge is daunting, but it is exciting to see the solutions being generated.

As always, I walk away proud of my chosen profession and excited by the opportunities to build communities and generate opportunities for people across the Columbus Region. Economic development does indeed matter!

Kenny McDonald

One Columbus Update

  • At the IEDC annual conference last week, One Columbus was ranked No. 2 “best in class” among the country’s top regional economic development organizations. One Columbus also won six IEDC Excellence in Economic Development awards for various marketing projects and campaigns. Many thanks to our partners and investors for your support – we share these awards with you.
  • This week, the One Columbus team continues its two week business development mission in Japan and China.
  • Back at home, our team is hosting companies that are evaluating the Columbus Region.