IDM meets many economic developers throughout the year and we know how stressful the job can be. We began to realize how disparate our occupation is when we started a simple quest on the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) website to find the turnover rate in the economic development occupation to validate our perception that it is somewhat high. It turns out there is no such distinct occupation. On reflection of course, this makes perfect sense. There is no one-size-fits-all economic development job description, and economic developers are found in any number of industry sectors. Many, if not most economic development organizations in Iowa have a very few to no staff, yet they are the... Read More
Businesses, workers, investors and community stakeholders all want to know whether your region, community, or organization is worth their investment. Depending on who you are interested in reaching, economic developers and community leaders can use a variety of metrics to demonstrate their value proposition. Metrics can be used to compare your region, community or organization to other similar or aspirational regions, communities or organizations (benchmarking); or metrics can be used to measure performance, wellbeing or progress (often tied to objectives within a strategic plan).
Economic development organizations (EDOs) frequently seek assistance from IDM to determine which m... Read More
For decades economic developers and others have determined that successful communities, regions and states take a three-legged approach to economic development focused on Business Retention & Expansion (BRE), Business Attraction, and Entrepreneurial Development. However, as the economy has grown and demographic shifts have taken place, it is clear that in order for a community, region or state to have success in economic development, the three-legged stool needs to be expanded to a six-legged table.
The six-legged table includes the three traditional legs of economic development (BRE, Business Attraction, Entrepreneurial Development) that can be called the business developme... Read More
As planning experts, we at IDM consider the shelving of strategic plans as the greatest threat to the work of the many planning team members, community leaders and others who give time, talents and treasure to the development of the strategic plan. The plan is developed, but then the implementation stalls. Has this happened in your organization or community?
IDM has been adding “implementation follow up meetings” as a normal course of our strategic planning services. Serving as a third-party neutral facilitator, we ask the plan’s implementers about their progress on actions, help troubleshoot challenges and barriers, and guide the conversation around any changes that might be n... Read More
Counties and communities across the Midwest face a common challenge, a shrinking workforce and in many cases, overall population loss. Economic vitality depends on growing, or at least sustaining the population necessary to create and fill jobs, support schools, and maintain decent housing and infrastructure. Success relies on an area’s ability to retain its current population and/or attract new people. Economic development in practice has long shifted away from a strictly business development role to include workforce and community development.
Workforce recruitment and retention issues are now common themes heard from BR&E visits, and economic developers nearly everywhere ar... Read More
It was nearly two years ago that we addressed housing as an economic development issue in the IDM newsletter. Housing remains a major issue today for many Iowa communities and has become a barrier to economic development. In that article we talked about four steps economic developers should consider as housing became “their problem.” The steps are still worth considering today:
Step One: Know your issues. Learn about the exact issues your community faces. Is it affordability? Is it the condition of existing housing? The style of housing? Rental housing?
Step Two: Determine your organization’s role. Will you be an advocate, liaison or developer? What is your organization... Read More
What do economic developers do when they need to get out of the office?
Check out sites, of course!
This summer, the IDM team met with Jeff Kolb of the Butler-Grundy Development Alliance and Rick Whalen with Butler County REC for a tour of the Butler Logistics Park. The Park is located in a rural area two miles west of Shell Rock and is a great example of what strategic collaborations can accomplish. The Park is now shovel ready with room to grow and is already home to several industries, but its development has been a long time in the making and involved a lot of partners along the way. Jeff and Rick shared their story of how partners came to the table at just the right t... Read More
You have probably heard this type of phrase before in some context or another, but it definitely rings true for governing boards. Organizational size, scope of work, geographic reach, financial resources, past experience and personal preferences all lead to differing levels of involvement in governing. As IDM works with economic development and other organizations across Iowa, we see a spectrum of board involvement from passive to fully engaged.
On one end of the spectrum, passive boards keep activity and participation to a minimum and their main job is approving director decisions and signing off on reports, budgets and work plans. On the other end, a fully engaged board will mak... Read More
Washington needs to hear about economic development in Iowa! As we work across the state, we are continually impressed with the many communities and organizations that understand and make the most of the federal resources available to them. Federal resources in the form of funding opportunities or technical assistance programs help Iowans create and maintain the kinds of places they want and need for good jobs and livability.
As the next federal budget is proposed and discussion gets underway in our nation’s capital, in addition to a proposed budget amendment to the current budget, now is the time to share your stories with our members of Congress. How has your community or organi... Read More
How do you measure success in your Economic Development programming? It’s a conversation we have here at IDM frequently. So much of the work our economic development clients produce is part of a larger, longer process that requires time and examination before results become evident. Fortunately, the ability of data sources to capture reliable, relevant data is constantly improving. Secondary data sources are getting quicker, and offering more information than ever through easy-to-access and easy-to-share formats.
Annual data is released this time of year by several federal agencies at all levels of interest: national, state, regional, county, and city. Data at all levels can be us... Read More