Welcome to the new year!
I am grateful for your interest in reading our newsletter and posts. Last year was an exciting one as we engaged with communities and their change agents in fifteen states. During my time of reflection at the end of the year, I noted 4 lenses that I think will become more clear in 2020.
If you want to realize a vibrant competitive community, development must be equitable and inclusive, and the recognition of this reality is advancing in many places around the country. Josh Devine on our team has been leading our work in this space and recently published this Equity Framework. We are working with communities that seek to transform their policies, programs and systems to support all residents.
The impacts of climate change are ramping up and community leaders - public and private - are taking action. On one side, I’ve heard directly from senior economic development officials that they want to prepare their communities to support the attraction of climate refugees. Buffalo’s mayor noted in his 2019 State of the City address that he wanted to become a Climate Refugee City. On the other, we’ve seen how Key West is advancing the tough decisions required to manage what you can.
Economic Competitiveness is a Team Effort
Economic Development is no longer being left just to the economic developers. Leaders are recognizing that to truly make a community a place where people want to live and businesses thrive, it takes a team. Community foundations, United Way affiliates, faith-based organizations, and certainly workforce organizations are playing an increasingly important role in ensuring that communities are addressing their opportunities and issues in as holistic a manner possible.
Data is Powerful, especially when you can see it
In 2019 we saw an increasing number of our clients interested in visualizing the data and connections. In Columbus, Georgia we developed a dashboard for their Columbus 2025, Vibrant and connected Places committee. In Maine, we are working with the state AARP Chapter to develop a local data dashboard that aligns with their Age-Friendly and Livability activities. Making data accessible in this way helps to engage partners, think strategically about future investments and celebrate success when it is achieved.
While our team will engage with communities in many ways, we expect that these four lenses will continue to be our focus in 2020. Have thoughts on these topics or just want to catch up? Drop me a note or text.