The problem with being a “Great Place to Live, Work & Play”

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!

Here’s why:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 (

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 Leads Forum in Spencer, Iowa

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.

Learn more about the Toyer Framework® and our Micgrowpolitan™ services.

Project Update: City of Pacific WA

Toyer Strategic Consulting has completed the Phase I of a two phase business retention and expansion project for the City of Pacific and Port of Seattle.  The Phase I inventory discusses our methods for data collection, and categories and analyzes the types of existing businesses within Pacific’s corporate limits.  Phase II of the project (now underway) involves distribution of a general business survey and completion of business retention and expansion (BRE) visits.

Check out the Phase I report:

Phase I Business Inventory for City of Pacific

Pacific Retains Toyer for Economic Development Project

The City of Pacific, Washington has retained Toyer Strategic Consulting (TSC) to complete an economic development project funded by the City and a grant from the Port of Seattle.

Under the project scope TSC will identify, categorize and visit key employers within the community.  A final consultant report and business retention and expansion (BRE) program recommendations are due to the City and Port no later than November 1st of this year.

“We are excited to work with the City of Pacific and support their existing businesses,” said David Toyer, owner of Toyer Strategic.  “Pacific is an especially unique location in Washington State, supporting jointly with the City of Sumner one of nine ‘manufacturing industrial centers’ that could yield up to 2,100 acres of new industrial development along the SR 167 corridor.”

About Pacific
Located 28 miles south of downtown Seattle, Pacific is split between King and Pierce counties and has a 2017 population estimate of 7,184.

The cities of Pacific and Sumner were provisionally designated a manufacturing industrial center (MIC) in 2016 by the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) pending completion of a MIC subarea plan expected later this year.

A Bubble or some Bubbly?

A Bubble or some Bubbly?  That is a fair question going through the minds of some in Washington State right now.

Bubbly – Like Champagne is a Good Thing

The popping of the cork on a bottle of champagne followed by those fizzy bubbles are symbolic representations of celebration and success!

And Washington State’s economy appears to be raising a big glass of the bubbly these days.  In 2016 wages in Washington State rose 4.8%, accounting for the largest year over year increase since 2007.  The State’s unemployment figures for May 2017 dropped to 4.5% from 5.6% just a year ago.  And for the second year in a row, Seattle leads the country in the number of cranes (58 cranes – 60% more than any other US city) – a sign that typically points to a booming economy.  Add to this, has ranked Washington’s economy #1 in the US based on an assessment of 27 economic factors.  And CNBC concurs, ranking Washington as the best state for business in the US.

Is there a Bubble?  (that ol’ Bearer of Bad News)

But despite all to celebrate in Washington’s economy, there is room to take pause.  Some data indicates some very negative trends and recent company announcements point to some small earthquakes within key industries that are drivers of the state’s economy.

For example, state data should that wage growth has primarily been limited to to King (Seattle) and Snohomish (Everett) counties, leaving the balance of the state flat or dropping.  Moreover, nearly 1/5th of Washington’s counties (7 out of 39) have unemployment rates over 7% with six more hoovering just shy of that mark.  And even in the prosperous Seattle metro, a count in late May found more than 11,000 homeless in the area – a significant number of which that are employed.  In four years, the median cost of housing in the state has jumped 37% to over $300,000 (driven by price pressures in the metro counties) – a great thing if you own a house, but bad if you don’t.

Recently announced layoffs and moves at Boeing and Microsoft – including 125 engineers tied to production of Microsoft’s surface and hundreds of Boeing’s shared services group being relocated to a Mesa, AZ facility – are just some of the more visible ‘adjustments’ happening in the market.


Nothing is definitive at this time, but if you’re investing and developing in the Northwest (especially Seattle), you should give caution to whether the next pop you hear is the opening of another bottle of the bubbly or the air releasing from booming growth adjusting to underlying market factors.