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Column

Economic Development Bootcamp was a big success

The GEDC sponsored its first Economic Development Bootcamp and by all measures it was a great success.

Trustees, planning and zoning officials, and mayors from Grundy County participated in the evening event.

Part of the event was dedicated to “The Role of Elected Officials in Economic Development,” which came from a National League of Cities publication.

The publication details 10 things elected officials should know to be successful in economic development, but also serves as a great template for all community members involved in attracting new investment and quality jobs to Grundy County.

1. Your Local Economic Strengths and Weaknesses

It is important to have a realistic vision and strategy for your community. Time and resources are limited, so focus them on areas where your community has a competitive advantage.

2. Your Place in the Broader Regional Economy

Embracing regionalism isn’t easy. How does your community fit in the broader region, are you prepared to work with other jurisdictions to share regional success? Most businesses look at markets, labor force and infrastructure, not political boundaries.

3. Your Community’s Economic Development Vision and Goals.  

Local officials play a key role in building consensus for a vision and goals to provide clear direction for economic development. Communities need to articulate what type of development they want, and just as importantly, what they do not want.

4. Your Community’s Strategy to Attain its Goals

One starts with a goal and then will link that goal with activities, budgets and measurable outcomes.

5. Connections between Economic Development and City Policies

Nothing happens in a vacuum. It is important to ensure that economic development policies complement other municipal policies such as transportation, housing, etc.

6. Your Regulatory Environment

This issue is a frequent concern for new business. Each governmental body needs to evaluate if its permitting/regulatory process is timely, reliable and transparent.

7. The Needs of Your Local Businesses

This is one of the most important aspects of economic development, supporting the businesses already in your community. Keep open and frequent communication with local companies and create an environment that supports their growth.

8. Your Economic Development Stakeholders

Each project is different and requires a unique team to be successful. Think about who should be at the table and the required knowledge and resources to take a project over the finish line.

9. Your Community’s Economic Development Message

Have a clear, accurate and compelling message to share with stakeholders.

10. Your Economic Development Staff

Officials are more effective when they have strong relationships with staff and partners. Think beyond the municipal building to utilities, railroads, state agencies, and of course your local economic development organization.

• Nancy E. Norton is CEO of the Grundy Economic Development Council.

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