Local Leadership for Job Creation and Economic Growth: Economic Development Trends

December 19, 2011

Reflecting Back, Looking Ahead

by Christiana McFarland 

Many of those involved in economic development at the local level have demonstrated an incredible ability to not only adjust to the tumultuous economic conditions of the past few years, but to think outside the box and seize new opportunities. 

The Economic Development program at NLC explores, shares and connects city leaders with these various paths to economic development "success." By examining economic development in a local context, local leaders and economic development officials can enrich their capacity to affect economic change. 

That is, what tools do local governments currently have to support job creation and business growth? What are the policy and governance implications of particular approaches to economic development? How can local leaders rethink the work they do and the partners they engage to advance the economic development goals of the community? 

By viewing these questions through the lens of global competitiveness, business development and entrepreneurship, we've noticed some interesting trends and roles for cities, including: 

·Focusing on existing and homegrown businesses, particularly improving communications with the business community and reexamining how municipal regulations and processes help or hinder business and how they can best meet local business needs. While clear regulations and open channels of communication appear to be the "low hanging fruit" policy choices for local governments, in actuality the process is a much more complex undertaking;

·Using foreign direct investment strategies as a tool to spur economic growth, particularly in smaller and medium-sized communities that may not instinctively be on the radar of international investors; 

·Leveraging the internet and social media to achieve economic development goals and to build connections to international companies; 

·Supporting small business trade opportunities by tapping local and regional service providers who have expertise, industry networks and access to the business community; 

·Leveraging political leadership to elevate the legitimacy of immigrant entrepreneurs and small businesses in the work of local government and to improve trust between immigrant businesses and government; and 

·Partnering with higher education, including community colleges, to attract and support international students. According to the Association of International Educators, international students attending U.S. colleges and universities contributed $18.78 billion to the U.S. economy during the 2009-2010 academic year. 

NLC's Economic Development peer network will offer bi-monthly opportunities to learn from each other and experts. "The Latest in Economic Development" blog post series will help local leaders stay on top of economic development trends. See the sidebars below for more information about the peer network and blog series. 

Additionally, NLC's Economic Development program will continue to offer resources and training (keep an eye out for a spring Leadership Training Institute on communications strategies for economic development and a toolkit on local roles in small business development), disseminate promising practices, conduct applied research and produce analysis and commentary. 

Details: For more information about NLC's Economic Development program, please contact Christiana McFarland at mcfarland@nlc.org or J. Katie McConnell at mcconnell@nlc.org.


New Economic Development Blog at Citiesspeak.org 

by Brett Common

The Center for Research and Innovation's Economic Development team has introduced a new weekly blog post series, "The Latest in Economic Development," which highlights articles related to current trends, interesting city programs and promising initiatives in local and regional economic development. 

Continuing sluggish economic growth has placed a renewed focus on economic development issues - sometimes making it difficult to sift through the plethora of information coming from a vast number of sources. With that in mind, the intent of the new series will be to highlight information that is most pertinent to cities and city leaders in a succinct weekly item that can be used to provoke new ways of thinking about economic development.

The first edition was posted on December 12. Included were articles that explored: a revitalization program in Akron, Ohio, a new model for higher education supported by cities, students and city residents, a rethinking of the performance and number of technology-based incubators and a sample of global cities that are proving successful in attracting young job seekers.

Check out "The Latest in Economic Development," on NLC's Citiesspeak.org.  

Economic Development Peer Network 

by J. Katie McConnell 

The NLC Economic Development Peer Network will be holding its first webinar of the new year on January 19, 2012, at 2:30 p.m. Eastern time. 

This new interactive forum provides elected officials, economic development staff and other local leaders the opportunity to hear from experts and exchange best practices. Join the group and attend the webinar!