Ensure the Economic Growth of Your Community
An integrated approach to economic development can ensure the continued growth of your community. By identifying and utilizing the innate strengths of your community, you can strategically align economic growth goals and tactics to support the economic, social, cultural, and environmental priorities of residents and local businesses.
Table of Contents (4 minute read)
Economic Growth Backed by Statistically Significant Data
Traditional economic development initiatives are the first and most obvious methods for ensuring economic growth. You can boost your local economy by seeking out new opportunities to support current business growth and economic prosperity, as well as by informing policy and budget decisions in your municipality. Attending professional networking and development conferences for economic development, like EDAC and OEMC, also provide solutions and ideas to improve regional economies.
Sometimes it can be challenging to quantify the results and benefits of economic development initiatives. But, by basing your strategic development and economic growth initiatives on data, you’ll be able to illustrate results in a quantifiable way. These results will make it easy to show the positive impacts that your department has had on the community, during your next EDO performance assessment. So how do you get the data you need?
To take economic development to the next level, an efficient and accurate tool like Triage BR+E™ provides the strategic direction you need in a faster timeframe than traditional methods. In as little as 10 days, with a ready directory and no customization, this tool can provide feedback on which local businesses need your help the most and which businesses are thriving, so you can support and recognize both.
With Triage BR+E™, the health of local businesses, now and into the future, is determined using statistically significant data. The data collection method is based on years of market research best practices and saves local EDOs time and money by streamlining the process of identifying priorities for your community.
Supporting Business Development
Chances are high that most of the businesses in your community are family-owned businesses. Whether they’re longtime mom and pop shops, entrepreneurial new Canadians, or freshly graduated freelancers, these businesses are the lifeblood of your community. Supporting the development of longtime businesses and brand-new businesses is equally important.
In addition to the advice you give and the consulting services you provide to help local businesses prosper, you can nurture relationships between government agencies and the community. Businesses may not be ready to look for funding at the moment, but they may require it in the future. That is where your economic development office comes in, building solid relationships with stakeholders now for continued economic growth well into the future.
Supporting women in the workforce creates gender parity in your business community and boosts economic growth by growing and diversifying your business base, and bringing more investment into your community.
Some opportunities for support may be local childcare initiatives that make it easier for women or men in caretaking roles to go to work. Mentorship opportunities for and from women-led businesses in the community can help encourage new entrepreneurs. Encouraging local businesses to develop and implement flexibility for scheduling or working from home also helps to level the playing field. Flexible work environments benefit women and men.
A strong and welcoming business community with economic diversity and municipal support is going to be more resilient in the face of a recession. You can help business owners build recession proof businesses by building strong relationships with owners, supporting workforce development and job seekers, and working to attract investment from diverse sources, including international investment.
Strengths-Based Community Development
To get a holistic view of your community, it's important to understand your community from a cultural, social, environmental, and economic perspective. It’s important to identify and understand the unique strengths of your community, and integrate this information into your economic development plans and BR+E initiatives. Gathering data about your community will allow you to identify economic development opportunities, as well as community-building opportunities. Nurturing and promoting economic opportunities and strengths in the community helps in creating a sense of place and community pride for residents.
For instance, if the natural environment of your community is a huge selling feature, like the Rocky Mountains in Alberta or Lake Country in Ontario, its preservation and promotion should be priorities. Environmental initiatives will be crucial to ensure the area remains pristine and attracts tourists to local businesses and amenities.
To better understand the strengths of your community, you can hold consultations, arrange for focus groups, and use surveys to gather data. Armed with this information, you can better frame your economic growth strategies and goals to ensure alignment with your region and its residents.
Another opportunity that ties in with your natural environment is the walkability of your community. If your community has a high walk score, that’s an asset you can capitalize on when promoting your community to investors, site selectors, and potential new residents. Improving community walkability makes your community more attractive to a variety of people.
While it's important to include the existing industries and natural assets of your region in your economic growth plans, it's also important to diversify your business community. To that end, here are a few of the best businesses for economic growth. Encouraging these types of businesses to get established in your community will help your community stay resilient and become more attractive to other industries.
Healthcare companies create a wide variety of jobs in your community; it’s an industry that will always be in demand. There are many healthcare-related businesses, from the manufacturing of medical equipment to research and development to laboratories. Retirement facilities are also critical. Having a local option supports community wellness.
IT businesses are more critical now than ever before. Making your community welcoming to IT makes your community welcoming to all other types of businesses that rely on IT services.
Developing Cultural and Creative Assets
Culture varies drastically and beautifully across the country. Canada is truly a mosaic of amazing cultures. From First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities, to early settlers, to new Canadians today, we’ve got amazing cultural assets. Cultural tourism is now one of the fastest-growing industries worldwide. If you understand your community’s cultural individuality, and can strategically utilize it in planning initiatives, cultural tourism can flourish in your community.
Did you know that there are 634 First Nations in Canada? You can basically guarantee that there is a First Nations connection to your community and possibly many in your region. Connecting with nations in your area is a community-building opportunity that can support your regional cultural development. Connecting with the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB) can help you find ways to better support local Indigenous-owned businesses in your region.
Cultural and creative assets are what make your community vibrant, different, and attractive to residents and visitors alike. By fostering and facilitating partnerships and collaboration that continue to develop your community’s cultural assets, you can increase and support further economic growth.
Attract and Facilitate Trade and International Development
One final way to support the growth of your community’s businesses is through trade and international expansion. Helping businesses forge relationships and benefit from trade missions with international markets strengthens local industries looking to expand into new markets.
In addition, you could integrate a foreign investment attraction strategy into your planning; new investments provide funding for the local economy. Having already invested in determining the unique strengths of your community, you could assist in locating and initiating relationships with complementary international trade partners.
You can further support your local business community by developing strategies to recruit talent. Attracting and retaining talented employees is critical for the stability and growth of local businesses. Sometimes the particular skill set, experience, or education required may not be available in your local area. Searching further afield, including internationally, can help your local businesses achieve their growth goals, in turn helping you achieve regional economic growth goals.
Follow Through on Initiatives to Strengthen the Community
With a diverse yet integrated approach to economic development, you have covered your bases to ensure economic growth. Cultural, community, and business development are all essential additions to traditional economic development and BR+E efforts.
Celebrating events like Small Business Week is just one of many ways you can support and strengthen your local business community. Small Business Week 2020 gave business owners across Canada a chance to show how they adapted to the challenges of COVID-19, and to demonstrate the resilience and strong entrepreneurial spirit of Canadians.
Economic development can be a complex process. You need to be able to see the big picture and the fine details at the same time. Strong data can help you paint a bright picture for the future for holistic planning and development. Monroe County, Michigan worked with MDB Insight in 2016 to collect data for an economic development report. MDB Insight delivered a holistic report that clearly identified opportunities for development, strategic guidance for planning, and specific action steps.