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Engaging Elected Officials in Economic Development

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Successful economic and community development requires the engagement and support of elected officials --- Mayors, legislators, members of Congress, county commissioners, city councils. This Workbook from a presentation to the Inland Northwest Partnership provides some practical approaches. Major credit on working with elected officials should go to the International Economic Development Council.

Published in: Economy & Finance
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Engaging Elected Officials in Economic Development

  1. 1. Mark Barbash Executive Vice President Finance Fund www.linkedin.com/in/markbarbash Engaging Elected Officials in Economic Development
  2. 2. Workbook on Economic Development for Elected Officials Mark Barbash Inland Northwest Partnership / September 25, 2015 2 Purpose of the Training: • To arm economic developers with approaches and tools to increase the engagement of elected officials in their economic development systems • Part One: • Why engage elected officials in your economic development effort? • What is the role of the elected official? • Part Two: • How to explain what Economic Development is to elected officials? • Or Talking the Language of the Elected Official • Part Three: • Explaining the Site Selection Process to an elected Official • Part Four: • Rules of the game for working with elected officials
  3. 3. Workbook on Economic Development for Elected Officials Mark Barbash Inland Northwest Partnership / September 25, 2015 3 Part One Why engage elected officials in your economic development efforts?
  4. 4. Workbook on Economic Development for Elected Officials Mark Barbash Inland Northwest Partnership / September 25, 2015 4 Why should you engage elected officials in economic development? First, because they’re already there! Officially: In the chain of approval: abatements, grants, loans, voting on appropriations and programs, zoning, planning, responding to citizen complaints and concerns Unofficially: Connection with key stakeholders (developers, business owners, citizens, bankers), complaining citizens, media, other elected officials
  5. 5. Workbook on Economic Development for Elected Officials Mark Barbash Inland Northwest Partnership / September 25, 2015 5 Steven Covey’s Seven Habits: 1.Be Proactive. • Reach out to the elected before they have to reach out to you! 2.Begin with the End in Mind • How do you envision the involvement of a particular elected official in your economic development effort? 3.Put First Things First • Make sure your own house is in order, and be prepared for “input” 4.Think Win-Win • Both sides should gain from the relationship. 5.First Seek to Understand, then Seek to be Understood • Why do people run for office and what do they want to achieve? 6.Synergize • It’s all about teamwork, not competition.
  6. 6. Workbook on Economic Development for Elected Officials Mark Barbash Inland Northwest Partnership / September 25, 2015 6 The Role of the Elected Official • Executive • Mayors, Governors, Presidents • Management of Cabinet Officials • Budget • Legislative • State Legislature, City Council, County Commission • Oversight of the Executive • Solve Problems • Level • Local • State • Federal
  7. 7. Workbook on Economic Development for Elected Officials Mark Barbash Inland Northwest Partnership / September 25, 2015 7 Needs of the Elected Official • Legislative: State legislature, city council, county council, townships • Executive: Governor, Mayor, County Executive Make the Connection between the needs of the elected official and economic development • Get elected • Support key initiatives • Support the work of key allies • Make connections • Stay out of trouble • Solve problems • Raise money for campaigning • Advance in the party leadership structure • Stand out
  8. 8. Workbook on Economic Development for Elected Officials Mark Barbash Inland Northwest Partnership / September 25, 2015 8 • Why engage elected officials? • Community and political support • Financial resources, particularly for infrastructure • Access to key players and stakeholders • “Early warning” on controversies • Support for business investments / incentives • How to get elected officials engaged in economic development • Involvement in the strategic planning process • One on one • Lobbying vs. “information” • Board of Directors? • Connective tissue
  9. 9. Workbook on Economic Development for Elected Officials Mark Barbash Inland Northwest Partnership / September 25, 2015 9 Part Two How to explain what Economic Development is to elected officials?
  10. 10. Workbook on Economic Development for Elected Officials Mark Barbash Inland Northwest Partnership / September 25, 2015 10 The Goal: • Engage the elected official to be supportive of your efforts to grow the community, be a friend in times of need, support for additional resources, and help project success.
  11. 11. Workbook on Economic Development for Elected Officials Mark Barbash Inland Northwest Partnership / September 25, 2015 11 Key Questions You Need to Answer • What is economic development? • What is community development? • Why is regionalism important? • Who are the players in economic development? • What are the types of activities in economic development? • How does “deal making” work? • How does a BDO operate? What are best practices? • Can an elected official be “over-involved”?
  12. 12. Workbook on Economic Development for Elected Officials Mark Barbash Inland Northwest Partnership / September 25, 2015 12 What is economic development? • Activities to improve the economic and community health of a region by promoting public and private investment that creates and retains jobs, improves income, promotes a high quality of life, and improves the fiscal condition of local government.
  13. 13. Workbook on Economic Development for Elected Officials Mark Barbash Inland Northwest Partnership / September 25, 2015 13 • Types of Strategies for Economic and Community Development • The importance of the strategic plan and examples of approaches such as attraction, retention and expansion, arts and culture, housing, small business, Main Street, A Key Point: Your community’s economic development strategy should be based on the current conditions and aspirations of your area.
  14. 14. Workbook on Economic Development for Elected Officials Mark Barbash Inland Northwest Partnership / September 25, 2015 14 • Types of Strategies for Economic and Community Development • The Importance of the Strategic Plan • Business Retention and Expansion • Attraction & Competition • Tech Based Economic Development • Workforce • Neighborhood • Main Street
  15. 15. Workbook on Economic Development for Elected Officials Mark Barbash Inland Northwest Partnership / September 25, 2015 15 • Who Does What in Economic Development? • The Partners • Economic Development Professional • Workforce Development Professional • Site Selector • Utilities
  16. 16. Workbook on Economic Development for Elected Officials Mark Barbash Inland Northwest Partnership / September 25, 2015 16 Role of the Economic Development Professional • Visionary • Catalyst • Advocate • Educator • Evaluator • Deal Maker • Facilitator • Connector • Marketer • Calling the Plays
  17. 17. Workbook on Economic Development for Elected Officials Mark Barbash Inland Northwest Partnership / September 25, 2015 17 What are the ways that elected officials can help economic developers? • Lobbying for overall program appropriations • Helping to run interference • Making connections with key stakeholders • Helping to drive long term vision and commitment • Getting attention when you celebrate successes • Lobbying for competitive funding applications – carefully • Help Drive the development of a local strategy • Help Develop your product • Help Form and be part of the core team • When the deal shows up be prepared to win…operate as a well oiled machine • Focus on building local incentive packages that fits the goals and objectives of the community • Build a comprehensive proposal that helps the company mitigate risk where possible
  18. 18. Workbook on Economic Development for Elected Officials Mark Barbash Inland Northwest Partnership / September 25, 2015 18 Ways to Engage Elected Officials • Educate them on projects in their districts/areas • Training targeted at elected officials: ED 411 • Getting access to key stakeholders • Service on advisory boards • Periodic briefings • Participate in elected officials’ local seminars on small business • Serve as referral source for constituents asking for assistance • Crisis management during an economic or natural disaster • Be a buffer
  19. 19. Workbook on Economic Development for Elected Officials Mark Barbash Inland Northwest Partnership / September 25, 2015 19 Part 3: Explaining the Site Selection Process
  20. 20. Workbook on Economic Development for Elected Officials Mark Barbash Inland Northwest Partnership / September 25, 2015 20 First contact to Ribbon Cutting: Elected Officials and The Deal Process Objectives • Overview of the economic development deal process • How to best position your community for a win • The role of the elected official, simplified The Deal Defined • What does an economic development deal typically look like? • An economic base company “Primary Employer” • Well defined parameters/requirements • Well defined project drivers • Actively evaluating multiple locations, likely multistate and possibly multinational • Communication is established with the project lead/representative • Confirmation received you are on the list of viable locations
  21. 21. Workbook on Economic Development for Elected Officials Mark Barbash Inland Northwest Partnership / September 25, 2015 21 Step One: The Deal Process – Contact & Qualify • Initial Contact: • To: property owner, local ED staff, political leadership, Governor’s office, Congressional office, supplier, customer, dog catcher • From: end user, consultant, real estate broker, accountant, lawyer, property owner, supplier, customer, alien life forms (other than those listed above) • Qualification and project definition • Define the project, understand the prospect’s needs, decision drivers, potential value to the community, and risks
  22. 22. Workbook on Economic Development for Elected Officials Mark Barbash Inland Northwest Partnership / September 25, 2015 22 Step Two: The Deal Process – Engage, Respond, Repeat • Engage your partners and mobilize your team • Engage with the client following the Platinum Rule – Treat others in the way they like to be treated. • FOLLOW THE CONSULTANT’S RULES • Look for opportunities to engage with supportive, similarly positioned businesses • Respond to requests • Answer the questions they ask AND the ones that they should have asked • Engage with the client following the Platinum Rule
  23. 23. Workbook on Economic Development for Elected Officials Mark Barbash Inland Northwest Partnership / September 25, 2015 23 Step Three: The Deal Process - Offer & Negotiate • Offer an aggressive incentive package you can live with in Round 1 • Best, but not final: aggressive on numbers, flexible on structure • Simple can beat big, demonstrate an understanding of the projects decision drivers outside of the traditional financial incentives • Negotiate the terms • Understand your ROI and what you are buying • Limit the number of negotiators. Make sure that person understands the details of what is being negotiated
  24. 24. Workbook on Economic Development for Elected Officials Mark Barbash Inland Northwest Partnership / September 25, 2015 24 Step Four: The Announcement • ONLY BAD THINGS COME FROM TALKING ABOUT PROJECTS BEFORE THE ANNOUNCEMENT • More competition • Labor problems • Increased costs • Let the company tell you when THEY want to talk about the project • There are a variety of ethical, legal and otherwise appropriate ways to handle public approval meetings
  25. 25. Workbook on Economic Development for Elected Officials Mark Barbash Inland Northwest Partnership / September 25, 2015 25 Step Five: Deliver and Monitor Deliver • Simple, clear processes • Maintain relationships • Provide clear pathways for answers • Follow-through on commitments Monitor • Incentives are a contract for services. Make sure you get what you paid for • But, missed projections don’t equal fraud with malicious intent
  26. 26. Workbook on Economic Development for Elected Officials Mark Barbash Inland Northwest Partnership / September 25, 2015 26 Risk Reduction – The Core Concern Win/Reduce Risk • Platinum Rule • Proactive/Responsive • Professional • Confidential • Clarity and honesty • Solve problems Lose/Add Risk • Assume you know best • Over aggressive • Uncoordinated • Multiple voices • Lack of clarity • Untrustworthy • Over promise/Under deliver The role of the elected official in the deal • Chief Executive: Oversee negotiation, establish relationship with senior decision makers, cut the final deal • Board Member: Advise behind the scenes. Ensure the systems are in place and working. Make your network available. • Stakeholder: Work with and support the negotiating team. Be ready to mobilize your organization and network.
  27. 27. Workbook on Economic Development for Elected Officials Mark Barbash Inland Northwest Partnership / September 25, 2015 27
  28. 28. Workbook on Economic Development for Elected Officials Mark Barbash Inland Northwest Partnership / September 25, 2015 28 Part Four Rules of the Game for Working with Elected Officials 1. No surprises 2. Emphasize the importance of confidentiality / Disclosure of information 3. Celebrate successes: The importance of the ribbon cutting 4. Don’t pretend to understand the role of politics, even if you do 5. Know the controversial issues in economic development 6. Know the political context of the elected: their issues, background, connections, controversies 7. Be careful about the pork barrel vs. the public good argument 8. Be careful what you promise 9. Know who else the elected is hearing from 10 Be prepared to answer the question: “What can I do for you?” (“What’s the ask”)
  29. 29. Workbook on Economic Development for Elected Officials Mark Barbash Inland Northwest Partnership / September 25, 2015 29 The 10 Things Elected Officials Should Know • Your local economic strengths and weaknesses • Your community’s place in the broader regional economy • Your community’s economic development vision and goals • Your community’s strategy to attain its goals • Connections between economic development & other city policies • Your regulatory environment • Your long term economic development stakeholders & partners • The needs of your local business community • Your community’s economic development message • Your economic development staff
  30. 30. Workbook on Economic Development for Elected Officials Mark Barbash Inland Northwest Partnership / September 25, 2015 30 Mark Barbash Finance Fund markbarbash@financefund.org www.linkedin.in/in/markbarbash (614) 774-7599

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