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Government Agency ED Organizations. Government Agency Development Organizations Component or complete agencies in the local government. Typical in medium to larger cities, but due to their high costs and staffing requirements, not usually seen in smaller cities.

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Government Agency ED Organizations

  • Government Agency Development OrganizationsComponent or complete agencies in the local government. Typical in medium to larger cities, but due to their high costs and staffing requirements, not usually seen in smaller cities.
  • Examples: Orlando’s Office of Economic Development Tallahassee’s Economic Development Department
  • Major Advantages--Direct connections to the local political system--Overseen by local government, so oriented to good of the city--Access to government resources
  • Major Disadvantages--Expensive to maintain and staff--Subject to the delays of government bureaucracy (and speed is often crucial to local development efforts)--Often only part of a larger department and ED efforts can receive little attention and funding

Private Development Associations

  • Private Development AssociationsGroups sponsored by local/regional businesses that operate with the permission or endorsement of local government.
  • Example: Tallahassee’s Chamber of Commerce
  • Major Advantages--Can act quickly, without public intervention--Tireless and active civic boosters--Very effective in fast-moving, marketing-oriented sectors like tourism and technology
  • Major Disadvantages--Bound by their limited interests (their membership comes first)--Limited concept of economic development (generally focused upon promoting existing businesses and real estate/investment opportunities associated with new firms)--Limited funding opportunities

Local Development Corporations

  • Local Development CorporationsSemi-independent (quasi-governmental) bodies that coordinate and actually manage development projects for or with local government.
  • Example: Miami Development Corporation Orlando Downtown Development Board
  • Major Advantages--Organized as a public-private partnership --Often enjoys support ($$ and power) from both sectors--Can levy taxes to raise funds for redevelopment projects--Can do all the tasks given to it by the public sector, yet remain a private body
  • Major Disadvantages--Sometimes given no authority to implement proposals--Occasional misuse of public funds and power for limited purposes--Often a bricks and mortar orientation--Not directly accountable (a “shadow government”)

Community Development Organizations

  • Community Development OrganizationsSmall, localized economic development organizations engaged in or supporting community development activities like affordable housing development and economic development in low-income and rural communities.
  • Example: CDC’s, Job training organizations Local examples?
  • Major Advantages--Well connected within a local community (trust, legitimacy)--Better understanding of local strengths/weaknesses of communities--Oriented towards human and community development outcomes--Able to mobilize local human resources
  • Major Disadvantages--Undercapitalized --Often have little technical and political capacity --Often have little authority
components of an ideal economic development organization
Components of an Ideal Economic Development Organization

Leadership Board


Economic Analysis and Planning




Marketing and Finance


--Project Development

--Financial Planning

--Financial Packaging

Human and Community Resources


--Education and Training

--Community Services

--Regulation Analysis

--Local Government Coordination

the musts of a successful ed org
The “Musts” of a Successful ED Org
  • Regardless of the form an economic development organization takes, it must have sufficient authority and resources.

Authority: The legitimate power to act on behalf of the local government, community, and other groups.

Resources: Staff, financial access, technical assistance, information, power, and connections required by various programs and other economic development efforts.

  • The primary activity areas should be:

1) Research: To identify and provide background information on an area’s needs.

2) Information provision: To provide information to existing businesses, prospective businesses, local leaders, etc. on opportunities for and obstacles to local economic development efforts.

3) Marketing: Information customized for local economic development strategies.

4) Coordination: Bringing together various groups to plan and implement local economic development efforts.


Economic Development Practitioner Roles

  • Consultant: Provides expertise and problem-solving skills on a project-by-project basis. Skills: Technical, Financial, Planning, Project Management
  • Enabler: A facilitator who specializes in bringing people together and providing a structure to resolve community ED issues.Skills: Facilitation, People Skills, People Management, Coordinator
  • Community Organizer: A partisan for a specific group, community, or project who builds support in the public and private sectors for ED initiatives.Skills: Marketing, Presentation, Planning, Coordination
  • Booster: A “zealot” for an area whose job is to catalyze interest in the area among various local and non-local groups.Skills: Advertising, Marketing, Salesmanship, People Skills
  • Almost certainly, the Economic Development Specialist will fill several of these roles in a given position.

ED Practice Discussion Questions

  • In his Shoot Anything that Flies piece,Rubin maintains that the predisposition to business and locality development is not related to dominance by power elites or corruption. What explains this Business and Locality Development orientation, then?
  • What is meant by the term “environmental uncertainty” and how does this relate to economic development practitioners?
  • How do practitioners deal with this uncertainty? What techniques do they employ in their “search for certainty”?
  • Rubin writes, “by themselves, these interviews portray the frustrations of the economic development practitioner…” (p. 249). Why are these practitioners so darn frustrated?
  • On the positive side, what are some of the “perks” in being an economic development practitioner?

Economic Development Practice Cont’d

  • Levy found that Sales/Marketing Activities dominate much of economic development practice.
    • Most important function: Publicizing the Area (65% of agencies)
    • Most time spent on: Advertising/Public Relations and Outreach
    • Most productive activities: Advertising/Public Relations and Outreach
    • Least productive activities: Grant Applications and Meetings
  • Why the emphasis on Sales/Marketing Activities?

1) These activities might actually make sense (‘perfect market’)

2) Studies show that tax incentives and ED packages have little impact upon decisions of firms to (re)locate

3a) Helps the economic developer to sustain their budget line and keep their job; important for the agency and the practitioner to appear active

3b) Helps build connections across the public-private divide

4) Economic developers are often not trained technicians oriented towards rational planning activities; they come from all professional backgrounds

the two faces of econ dev practice
The Two Faces of Econ Dev Practice

The “Rational Model” of Economic Development Practice

Process: Problem defined, facts are gathered, alternatives are analyzed, goals are chosen, courses are of action are selected, programs are implemented, and results are analyzed.

Typical Activities: Studies of local industrial mix, Review of tax and land use policies, Project feasibility analyses, Land use planning, Capital facility planning, Budgeting

Typical Products: Quantitative reports outlining strategic opportunities, Recommendations for economic development strategies

The “Marketing Model” of Economic Development Practice

Process: Inform businesspeople, firms, investors, and visitors of the local opportunities. Persuade these people to invest in the area.

Typical Activities: Visits to existing firms, Speeches, Meetings with politicians, Calls to relocating firms, Public Relations, Trade shows, “Networking”

Typical Products: Brochures, Presentation materials for meetings, Advertising materials


Combining the Two Faces

  • “One can argue that improving the market is the main, perhaps the only, contribution that local economic development efforts make to national economic performance.”
  • Information provision aids the market and helps to generate better decisions by firms and entrepreneurs in where to locate and eventually site their establishments.
  • But to be truly successful, economic development practice should include both sides of this equation. Sales and marketing efforts should be linked to and, at least in part, be derived from Rational Planning efforts. Integration of these divergent efforts is the key.
  • For example, sales and marketing efforts should fit with the goals of the Comprehensive Plan.
  • How might this happen in Tallahassee and Leon County? Suppose our firm has been hired by the city of Tallahassee to direct local economic development efforts.

Reviewing Economic Development Materials

  • Each pair will receive one set of items that they will review for the next 10-15 minutes. You will then report back to the class on the following questions:

1) What elements were included in the item you reviewed?

2) What organization prepared the item you reviewed?

3) What appear to be the purposes for the item? --Who was it prepared for? (target audience(s)) --What information is provided in the items? --Any sense as to how it was distributed?4) How would you characterize the presentation of the materials? (Very Attractive-High Quality vs. Unattractive-Low Quality) Why?

5) How would you characterize the quality of the data or information presented in the materials? (Detailed-High Quality/Very General-Low Quality)? Why?

6) Overall, what do these materials suggest about the organization that prepared it and the city for which it was prepared?