November 20, 2015
Tip Four: Choosing approaches
Strategy is about making choices and trade-offs
— Michael Porter
In economic development approaches are the general lines of attack an EDO undertakes to carry out its mission. They constitute the bulk of an organization’s day-to-day work load.
Last week’s post discussed the importance of keeping the number of approaches to a minimum. Today’s column suggests a method for choosing those few approaches.
SDG recommends a three-step process to determining your approaches.
- Evaluate your community’s economic needs
- Choose the two most important problems that an economic development approach can help solve
- Formalize the approach, allocating staff time and funding to the problem
Step One: Evaluate your community’s economic needs
Your EDO’s approaches should reflect your community’s needs.
For example, Basic Employer Recruitment (BER) is the most common approach as communities attempt to replace the basic jobs lost as companies close, relocate or are bought out by distant firms.
However, the U.S. unemployment rate in October 2015 was 5.0 percent and many Midwest counties had rates at 4.0 percent and below. If your community is at “full” employment perhaps BER is not the most needed approach.
Because EDOs are in the economic development business, BER will always be important, but many EDOs overspend on recruitment. You need to determine every year what the EDO will do to develop your community’s economy.
The organization with realistic approaches that solve important problems in the short term will be more successful in the long term.
Next week: Step Two – Choosing specific approaches