What Makes Good Communities Great?

That was the questioned posed and answered during two PSO-sponsored economic development forums held in February in Tulsa and Lawton. Led by veteran economic development and site selection professional, Jay Garner of Garner Economics, LLC, the forums provided economic development training for over one hundred city and county officials, economic development boards, and other PSO economic development partners. Here are some key takeaways from Garner’s presentation.

What do successful communities have in common? Here are the traits shared by Garner:

  • Common vision for the future by its citizens
  • Desire and commitment by both public and private leadership to achieve success
  • Desire to unite for the good of the community and resolve divisiveness
  • Ability to adapt and change the strategy (quickly) based on local and global economic conditions

Economic development projects are won at a local level, so your community must create this environment for success, be totally prepared for opportunities, and remove barriers like unnecessary regulations and onerous processes.

So, where do you start? Garner shared three key focus areas and steps to serve as a launching point for community economic development organizations.

Key focus areas:

  • Product Improvement — develop all aspects of the product, from the site to the to the tax structures to the community’s assets
  • Product Marketing —communicate your knowledge of both the product and the customer
  • Organization —build leadership, structure, and capacity in your community

Where should you start?

  • Know what you want — Establish a vision for the future of your community. Develop a plan that details the steps necessary to achieve this vision. Think holistically and focus on success.
  • Make a strong case — Know how to market your community. Provide explicit examples that emphasize your strengths, such as defined incentives, while mitigating your challenges.
  • Nurture your product — Make the process, from acquiring the site to being operational, as easy as possible for a company. That means having “shovel ready” sites or even a spec space prepared to go.
  • Invest— Economic development is about improving your community’s future. So, take the time to develop your capital and quality of place.

“In today’s highly competitive global environment, those communities and regions that are adaptable, flexible, have an excellent product to present and understand the value of quality public and private leadership are those that consistently win in the economic development arena, whether it’s in business recruitment, entrepreneurial development or business retention and expansion,” said Garner.

Are you taking the steps to make your good community great? How can we help? We’d love to hear from you.

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