An Alternative Approach to the Economic Development Process
“People by and large becomewhat they think aboutthemselves.”---William James An Alternative Approach to the Economic Development Process
One size does not fit all… What is the communities appetite for economic development? Pro-Growth or Status Quo? Regional& Global Economy or Slow Growth? What is achievable, versus what is a wish? Insanity is doing the same things and expecting different results.
Being competitive… Comparable Oklahoma communities larger than 30,000 in population have dedicated economic development funds. Those communities view economic development as a tool to increase jobs, attract capital investment, raise the per capita income of the their citizens and add sales tax collections. Those “other” communities do not have the same resources as Shawnee, yet have seen positive growth numbers through retention and creation of jobs, along with attracting new money to their communities.
What does dedicated funding really mean? Not having to ask the City to financially assist with every project. Undertaking long term economic development goals that will have a quantifiable community benefit. Allowing for sustainable targeted marketing of the community. Establishing a closing fund to fill in the gaps that often occur in economic development projects, including retail. Taking the politics out of economic development and assuring the citizens that projects are evaluated on an objective basis, using a measurable, scientific impact analysis tools.
What else will it allow? The creation of a new public trust that works on behalf of the citizens, with all assets being owned by them. The formation of which will be guided by the City Commissioners, who will appoint one of their own, plus six other business representatives, who serve on staggered terms. It would allow for faster response time to business prospects, subject to the requirements of the Oklahoma Open Meeting Laws. Letting others who shop here help pay for our economic development activities.
How do we get there from here? Commissioners decide that this is worthy of a public vote. A steering committee and volunteers are gathered. A campaign plan is developed and funded by private funds. Community input is continually gathered at publicly held meetings on the subject. If passed a new public trust is formed to undertake the economic development efforts for the community. City Commissioners determine who the trust members are.
Specifically what would the funds be used for? Economic Development programs that assist with the creation or retention of well paying jobs. Capital improvements for infrastructure items that will have a direct impact on job creation, increasing sales tax collections and attracting new money to the community. Operational costs of the new public trust, including marketing, all programs and overhead expenditures. Developing shell buildings for attracting aviation and manufacturing jobs. Programs designed to attract capital, add jobs and raise the per capita incomes in Pottawatomie County.