A Healthy Economy Means a Healthy County

What is the Value of Economic Development? Sponsored by:
  Wells Fargo Bank Pacific Gas and Electric Company

So said Tulare County Supervisor Jim Maples in his state of the county address. "Creativity is needed to sustain and improve the economy." Maples said, "to sustain and improve the economy and quality of life in Tulare County, above all else, the Board must promote job growth and economic development for all of Tulare County so that the No. 1 agricultural county in the nation will have a diversified economy that will offer opportunities to all segments of our communities. "The direction of this board is clear: We want faster response times, a shorter permitting process and an end to unnecessary regulations. If we don't need it, get rid of it."

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Local Economic Development in CA is Under Siege

Communicating Our Worth to Public Officials, Businesses and the Community Sponsored by:
  Wells Fargo Bank Pacific Gas and Electric Company

We must help local leaders understand that the work of economic developers opens the doors for business and for tomorrow's city, county, and state revenues.  Economic development is not a draw on the budget. It's a revenue center for the community. In a misplaced attempt to save money and balance their budgets, the state, some cities, and counties are slashing funding for economic development activities. Within the past sixty days, appropriations for economic development in Calaveras, Tuolumne , and Napa counties have been reduced to zero.  This is just part of the picture. CALED is receiving calls from rural and urban economic development professionals (inside and outside of public agencies), who are also facing devastating budget cuts. As local governments' budgets are reduced even further, Similar ripples could reach all parts of California . There are serious implications for California 's business environment and the economic health of our communities. Our economies rest on healthy businesses providing good jobs.  As economic development professionals, it's our responsibility to help make this happen.  Cutting back on economic development can lead to negative impacts on city and county budgets and can have a significant snowballing effect on our quality of life. When resources are shrinking, our services are needed the most.. Why don't many public sector leaders understand this? Looking beyond the obvious effects of a slow economy and political turmoil, there are underlying issues that have seriously affected the health of both state and local economic development in California . Although "economic development" has become a popular buzzword, in truth, many public and non-profit leaders don't understand what we do and why it's important. Instead of being given more resources to address these challenges, economic development is now being placed on the chopping block.  Our economic development leaders are being asked to do more with less. Part of this crisis is our own fault.  On the whole:

  • We haven't done a very good job of monitoring and measuring the affects of our activities.
  • We haven't found the right words and support materials to describe what we do,  what we've accomplished, and why it's important.
  • We haven't clearly and consistently communicated our value to public leaders, local businesses, and the community.
  • We haven't made our case based on a Return On Investment.

As a result, the public sector's role in economic development is often misunderstood, particularly by policymakers, who may see economic development as just another program and miss the facts: Economic development is not a draw on the budget. It's a revenue center for a community. We must help local leaders understand that the work of economic developers opens the doors for business and for tomorrow's city, county, and state revenues. If we, as a profession, don't respond quickly to these challenges, our efforts will dwindle and our economies will suffer. More Challenges California is facing major challenges. Local public agencies and non-profit groups are being forced to work on new issues, while still being responsible for the significant problems already on their plates. The abilities of economic development professionals, inside and outside of government, are being tested by the convergence of new events, values, and trends, including:

  • Serious budget problems at the national, state, and local levels that are draining funding from local economic development at the very time these services are needed most
  • The threat and economic drain of potential terrorist attacks and the devastation caused by natural disasters such as fire
  • An erratic economy that is fraught with uncertainty and wavering consumer confidence
  • Growth, sprawl, affordable housing, and environmental preservation as increasingly contentious issues, dividing communities and their leadership

A good local economic development effort can make significant inroads into these challenges, but only if it has the support and funding to be effective.  As we've shown, the struggle to secure even a small percentage of local government resources has become increasingly fierce. Economic development programs must be understood to be funded.

  • They must be of obvious value.
  • They must have measurable results.
  • They must have a consistent professional mechanism for publicizing their activities.
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Measuring Success: The Metrics of Performance, Inside & Out

How Do We Measure Our Value? Sponsored by: Wells Fargo Bank
Pacific Gas and Electric Company
Measuring Success: The Metrics of Performance, Inside & Out
Making progress towards your goals and delivering measurable results
by Katie Burns, International Economic Development Council (IEDC)
The Greater Phoenix Economic Council doesn’t shy away from evaluating itself. As its president and CEO Rick Weddle explained to listeners at a recent IEDC conference, an organization’s self evaluation is a process that generally has three dimensions:

. Progress – have you done what you said you would do?

. Effectiveness – did it work, and did the effort achieve your objectives?

. Impact – can you show that positive changes have resulted from the work you did?

Evaluation isn’t easy, however. Weddle, who is also chairman of the IEDC Board of Directors, noted that GPEC bases its evaluations on three main areas: operations management, agenda-setting (e.g. determining the organization’s vision, mission, strategy and overall approach to achieving them); and impact achievement (e.g. making progress towards those goals and delivering measurable results.)

Two things, however, make it exceptionally difficult to evaluate an economic development program. One is the matter of timeliness; evaluating a program thoroughly can cost considerable time and money. GPEC, whose mission is to market the Phoenix area to businesses around the globe, deals with the timeliness issue by conducting biennial surveys of the region’s businesses.

Even more problematic is the difficulty in confirming the organization’s role in achieving results. Yes, that corporation you were wooing has decided to build a new corporate office in your area, but was it your persuasive pitch, the efforts of partner organizations, or some geographic or other type of factor that you don’t really control?

Under each impact area, GPEC looks at several different measures. In evaluating its operations management, the council has to ask key questions such as whether the staff is satisfied, qualified and performing well; whether the organization is following its stated strategy; whether or not the revenues generated are meeting the budget; and whether or not the organization is maintaining sufficient cash reserves.

Looking at the subject of organization management more closely, several different criteria are examined to see if GPEC is meeting, or making progress towards, a particular goal. Meeting cash reserve targets, for example, is one of the criteria for evaluating the organization’s performance in resource development and fiscal management. Weddle regards the cash reserve amount as an impact measure, because meeting it indicates GPEC is getting results. But other “effectiveness” measures also are examined, such as retention of existing pledges for contributions and the acquisition of new ones; approvals of public contracts; staff recruitment and retention; and satisfaction of GPEC’s executive committee. All these measures are checked annually. All but executive committee satisfaction are checked quarterly as well, and the cash reserves and pledge numbers are measured monthly.

Evaluating the setting of GPEC’s agenda calls largely for progress measures; have you set the right goals, and how close are you to achieving them? As an example of an organizational performance measure, Weddle looked at the execution of GPEC’s regional economic development strategy. Measurement criteria include implementation of your economic development strategy in cooperation with key partners; engaging new state leaders; engaging the region’s delegation to Washington DC; and keeping stakeholders satisfied with the direction, approach and results of the organization’s activity. GPEC looks at all of these annually, with quarterly checks on relations with state and federal leaders and on ED strategy cooperation.

Regarding organizational impact performance measures, Weddle offered a couple of examples. To see how successful GPEC has been at attracting businesses that offer higher-wage jobs, the organization looks at a host of effectiveness measures, including the amount of capital investment and number of jobs created, both on a monthly basis. Each quarter, they look at those and at average salaries and the number of prospects that actually locate in the area. Once a year, GPEC surveys stakeholders to see if they’re satisfied with the organization’s results. Most important for gauging GPEC’s impact, however, is the amount of payroll generated, because that ultimately shows how successful the council has been at getting more high-wage jobs.

Weddle also looked at how GPEC measures its marketing success. He noted four effectiveness measures evaluated – the number of qualified prospects contacted; the total reach of news and feature articles on Phoenix that GPEC manages to get placed; the return on investment for all this editorial exposure; and stakeholder satisfaction with results. The first three criteria are examined monthly, while shareholders are surveyed annually. The impact measure is positive change in image, which GPEC evaluates through surveys every two years.

(From Business Facilities Online.)

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How Do We Measure Our Value? Measuring Success

How Do We Measure Our Value? Sponsored by: Wells Fargo Bank Pacific Gas and Electric Company
Measuring Success
Measuring success is not done by reporting what marketing you have done, like how many ads you have placed, how many marketing trips you have made, or how many site selectors you have contacted. These are tools for keeping you on schedule, but they are not success indicators. A better indicator is to study the affect you have on the behavior of your marketing targets. Do members of your target audience accept your phone calls? Do they schedule visits? Do they send project information requests? Until you begin to measure behavioral change, you are measuring activities, not success. (Excerpts from Blane, Canada Ltd.'s ED Marketing Letter.)
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