By Bill R. Shelton, CEcD
Formulating economic development strategies is not difficult. Executing economic development strategies is difficult.
The good news about execution is that the issues that improve success are those that you have control over and can improve. Sound policies, procedures and management can increase your chances of success. Four key reasons for execution failure that must be overcome include the following:
Board Does Not Have Basic Knowledge of Economic Development Practices
Most board members of local economic development firms are selected because they are successful in business. While that is a desirable trait and they understand their respective businesses, chances are that they have little or no knowledge of the complexities of the laws, regulations and practices impacting economic development. Strong boards are not only trained in economic development but also know the role and responsibilities of being a board member.
Staff Lacks Experience to Manage a Fully Integrated Marketing Plan
It sounds harsh, but the success of an economic development operation has a lot to do with the person running the day-to-day operations and the execution of a marketing plan. It requires talent and experience plus management skills such as delegating properly, hiring the right people, implementing internal controls and having people skills.
No Commitment for Sustainable Results
Getting and maintaining the commitment for sustainable results is a challenge for any community economic development organization. It requires the active engagement of many stakeholders who are organized and motivated to achieve the desired results. Successful economic development programs have a strong orientation toward results, which in turn provides the essential platform for organizational success.
Staff Not Empowered to Commit Community
An effective economic development program has quick-response capabilities.
The inability to commit the community can put a hold on critical negotiation sessions by delaying decisions until approvals are obtained. Decision delays can all too often result in losing the deal as another alternative is selected.
The basic work unit of the economic development organization is a team. When a community has a dynamic team-based culture that involves both a functioning board and a talented staff, they have the essential ingredients for success.