Check out some highlights from the Spencer Economic Development forum our firm conducted on November 5th. Clip is courtesy of Spencer Municipal Utilities.
An economic development plan shouldn’t be a Christmas list of all the wonderful things your community wants to open this year (and the next several years). Such plans aren’t anymore realistic than the pony you wrote to Santa about when you were 9.
If you going to update your economic development plan (or strategy) in 2019, consider these two Christmas themed points:
- The Story Matters – It’s hard for me to recall a great example of a long Christmas story (or one that I can’t easily break into bullet points to give you the highlights). Possibly because Christmas was such a big deal in my house, but it’s also because we are much better at telling, remembering and enjoying stories that are identifiable, exciting and brief. A successful plan needs to be constructed with the story in mind so that your stakeholders can tell it as easily as you can and your prospects will remember it before others. Just keep thinking about how War & Peace may be a literary achievement, but Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch that Stole Christmas likely had greater impact on you (and your children).
- Be Rudolph not Frosty – Rudolph’s nose gave him an advantage over the competition. Finding your greatest asset and how to leverage it as a competitive advantage is the main task of any successful strategy. Unfortunately, too many planning efforts try to hang a hat on transforming a community into something their not – a sure way to slowly fade (or melt) into irrelevance.
Need help with an economic development strategic plan? We can help
Whether you are a community, economic development organization, real estate developer or expanding business, our land use and economic development expertise can add significant value to your projects. Here’s an example of value we’re adding to a project by changing the land use and zoning.
On a 6-1 vote Wednesday night, the Auburn Planning Commission recommended the City Council approve a comprehensive plan map amendment and rezone for 1.89 acres that our firm has been pushing through the City’s annual docket cycle on behalf of a client. If approved by the City Council, the resulting zoning would increase the density of the site by as many as 29 additional housing units.
“This project is a perfect example of how our company can help land owners and developers add value to their properties and projects,” said David Toyer, founder of Toyer Strategic Consulting. “With land supply inside urban growth areas becoming more constrained, our experience changing zoning and permitted uses can add significant benefits clients looking to achieve a higher and better use.”
In another example earlier this year Toyer Strategic successfully amended the matrix of permitted uses in the City of Pacific, Washington to allow a client to move forward an industrial warehousing in an office park zone – a obvious win for the project developer, but also a key win for a city which hadn’t seen much new development in that zone.
Traveling around as much as I do, I hear it from Mayors, I see it in community vision and mission statements, and I read it in marketing brochures. . .
[insert city name here] – “A Great Place to Live, Work and Play/Shop/Stay”
It’s been the tagline, catch phrase, sound bite, etc. for years now. And candidates for governor and congress use it in speeches (even last night), chambers use it, downtown groups use it, economic developers use it, etc. And this is a big problem. So, if you’re marketing yourself as a great place to live, work and play, your community has no chance to stand out. NO CHANCE!
- What does this statement really tell me about your community? Nada. It doesn’t tell me who you are, what you have, or what’s unique. So looking at “Anywhere: An awesome place to live, work and play” and “Lake Town: Live a Lake Life” which one do you want to know more about? You’re community needs to be united around an identify that is unique and authentic to you.
- At best you’re running with the pack when using this as the fulcrum of your marketing. I can type “great place to live work and play” into Google and get 4.35 trillion hits. Sort through the first few pages and you’ll see community after community saying the exact same thing, along with a couple articles like this and some articles about live, work play (LWP) mixed use type projects.
- And the pack you’re running in is big. It’s the more than 35,000 places in the United States that have a permanent population and buildings (Source: USGS), especially the 19,500 cities, towns and incorporated places (statista.com).
So if you’re using (or thinking about using) “Great Place to Live, Work and Play” to describe your community, STOP! Because even declining rural communities can stake the same claim, because their declining population is less about them and more on the fact that there are better places out there to live, work and play. . . ones that have a better marketing message or that are willing to invest in the amenities and infrastructure that proves it.
Still think it doesn’t apply to every community? Then envision the supermarket. You may not want to buy a can of sardines, but there are cans of it on the shelf because that is what some wants to buy them.
Toyer Strategic Consultant was in Spencer, Iowa yesterday continuing our work with the Grow Spencer Commission to create Spencer’s new economic development strategic plan. The day concluded with a community forum where David Toyer made a presentation on the economic development planning process, the core planning components within the strategy, some of the targeted industries and a review of the community’s goals. There is more coverage of the forum at The Daily Reporter and KICD AM 1240.
“Spencer is one of the nation’s 550 micropolitan statistical areas,” said David Toyer. “We’re excited to be working with them on a plan to maximize their growth potential.”
Learn more about Micropolitans.