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Interim Economic Developer

Communities that complete an economic development strategic plan without the benefit of an economic development professional point-person are limiting their ability to implement the program.

A Building Communities economic development strategic plan is filled with action steps. Typically, many of these action steps are assigned by the Steering Committee to local volunteers. While Building Communities considers such volunteers to be modern-day heroes, we also know that volunteers have jobs, families and lives beyond their passion to make their community a better place.

To successfully implement a strategic plan, therefore, requires someone professionally dedicated to the effort. This person should be contributing directly to plan implementation, while also serving as the quarterback of the overall effort to help ensure agreed-to tasks are being completed by those assigned to carry them out.

Considerations in Staffing Economic Development

Questions abound when communities consider establishing an economic development office, or are in the process of evaluating the effectiveness and structure of the organization:

Questions such as these become particularly sensitive and important ones during difficult economic times, or when there is a perception that an existing economic development program is clearly not meeting expectations.

Virtually everyone has an opinion about economic development (“It’s the economy, stupid!”). The performance of public agencies such as police, fire and public works may be less scrutinized but when a community perceives it is not keeping up with the economic times, heads (or at least eyes) often roll.

At Building Communities, we believe the single-most important contribution a community can make to its local economy is hiring (or contracting) with an economic development professional(s). This is reflected in our Community Organizer Tool point scoring system where we help communities objectively assess their capacity.

We believe there are six principles that should govern the establishment, operations and evaluation of an economic development office:

Staffing Locally or Contracting Privately

Sometimes a community may not have (or believe it does not have) available financial resources to establish an economic development office. In such situations, contracting for intermittent (or full-time) economic development services can be a very worthwhile option to explore. While there are benefits to this approach, Building Communities offers the following considerations:

Building Communities Implementation Services

Building Communities is intimately involved in helping dozens of communities define their economic development needs and strategies. While we firmly believe that local economic development staffing is the optimal investment, we realize there may be times when making our professional team available to assist communities to implement their plan is appropriate and needed.

If a community desires to explore how we can assist with implementation of its economic development plan, we will begin the discussion by determining which Essential Action Steps and specific tasks may require our attention. The skills needed by communities, and already possessed by Building Communities, for economic development implementation include:

Closing Thoughts

Competent and appropriate professional staffing is fundamentally important in the successful implementation of an economic development strategic plan. Communities should highly value the need for staffing, and highly value the person(s) or company providing plan implementation services.

Building Communities can provide such services but will only do so when we believe it is a correct interim step for a community. The interim period could be as short as four months or as long as two years. Both the community and Building Communities must believe such a partnership is mutually beneficial.

 

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