ECONOMIC SUCCESS Basics for Economic Development Professionals

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1 ECONOMIC SUCCESS Basics for Economic Development Professionals seda

2 Planning Starting Point for the Economic Development Process Planning, like economic development itself, is not a quick fix and very rarely are solutions found overnight. Economic development is a PROCESS consisting of the following steps: Planning Implementing Evaluating Starting Again The strategic plan provides direction for economic development staff as well as the governing body. It sets out objectives and priorities along with associated strategies and action plans. The strategic plan often forms a benchmark by which to monitor performance of staff and/or the development organization. FREE This introduction to economic development basics is a launch pad for new practitioners. We encourage you to use our online learning platform Grow Our Region (www.growourregion.ca) for FREE self paced learning modules on key economic development concepts and to access an extensive inventory of best practices and templates. Saskatchewan Economic Development Association (SEDA) Key processes undertaken as a component of strategic planning are as follows: DETERMINE the present state of affairs. Get an accurate assessment of the present situation and those factors that led to it. LOOK AT THE FUTURE. What is most likely to happen if no action is taken? What things need to be changed? What things can be changed? SET GOALS. Determine the changes you want to take place: the desired outcome of your actions. Make sure these goals are supported by all stakeholders and social groups within your community or region. DECIDE WHAT YOU WILL NEED. Assess the resources (eg. financial resources, human resources, availability of time, etc.) that you will need to reach your goals. This step also means setting deadlines for when things are to be done. ACQUIRE AND ALLOCATE YOUR RESOURCES. Get what you need, and decide the best way to use your resources. MONITOR PROGRESS. Make sure things are running smoothly and according to schedule. Celebrate success. Address problems and ensure the plan is adjusted periodically to remain realistic and workable. DETERMINE WHEN THE PROCESS SHOULD END. Logically, this would be when the goals have been reached. However, situations change and the goals may no longer be worth pursuing, or they may no longer be realistically attainable. The current state of affairs might be such that a new plan - with new goals and resources - is needed. EVALUATE. Even plans that fail have value, in that they can provide important information for future planning, such as pointing out weaknesses that previously had gone unnoticed or strengths that can be relied upon for the future. Whether plans fail or succeed, an evaluation of the process and resources will lead to greater efficiency and an increased likelihood of success for subsequent plans. As part of an economic development plan, ensure that information and assessments are accurate. Sometimes, communities tend to be overly affected by short-term situations and don t see the bigger picture. Communities should not plan in isolation, but rather plan with the larger economy - provincially, nationally and globally - in mind. Consider all the available options. Innovation and creativity usually offer solutions to a community s economic development problems. What many communities take for granted - and largely ignore -might in fact have strong potential.

3 Sourcing and assessing opportunities and trends often require s research and assistance from outside the community. Information, valid opinions and worthwhile suggestions should be gathered from: Other communities with common characteristics, and who have enjoyed success in economic development. (For example, you might find a community that says, Just like you, we were considering expanding our industrial park, but then we hired some consultants who said we d be better off giving our main street a good facelift according to a 1920 s theme. It s worked great! ) Local economic development corporations usually have a comprehensive database of relevant statistical and descriptive information. Financial institutions. To survive, banks have to forecast economic trends and understand markets locally and internationally. They also have to be pragmatic, which means they can offer very objective opinions about a community s present and future economic situation. Business leaders and business organizations. This category is very similar to financial institutions, but business people generally tend to be more broad-minded and optimistic in their assessments, and in tune with development opportunities. They can also help you define those projects which would be most likely to attract development and private capital, and where that private capital might be available. Paid consultants. Professional consultants give you the benefit of having someone on your side who has been there before and know how to avoid the pitfalls. A good consultant can conduct the necessary research, formulate valid opinions, and make recommendations based on his or her experience with all of the groups listed above. Each of the above groups not only can give a wider scope in planning, but also serve as an important check and balance to one s own research and assessments of trends and opportunities.

4 Building Economic Development Strategies Strategies are directly related to the objectives and priorities identified in the strategic planning process. The process for selecting strategies and particular actions for economic development planning is not always a straightforward one and indeed can sometimes present uncertainty. They should relate to the evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of the area economy and the organizational capacity of the local organization and potential partners. Here are some questions that economic development leaders should ask themselves when deciding on different courses of action: What are the direct costs of the strategy? How is the strategy to be funded? How stable or accessible is the funding? Who is to implement the strategy? What are the benefits? Can those benefits be quantified? How long will it take? Has it been tried before, either in our community or in others? If so, what were the outcomes? What are the legal implications of the strategy? Does the local government actually have the authority to carry out the strategy, or will it need to rely on other public or private partners to implement it? What is the anticipated outcome? Do the strategies need to be implemented in any particular order? Which strategies are central to the success of the whole plan? To other strategies? Which strategies are time-sensitive (e.g. those that depend on a funding source with a cut-off date?) What strategies can be implemented quickly in order to demonstrate tangible results and build momentum? What strategies are mutually exclusive, duplicative, or potentially negating each other? What strategies clearly have lower priorities? Don t lose sight of the forest for the trees. If a strategy isn t working, get rid of it rather than struggle with it. Remember, the important thing is finding a way to reach your objective, which in turn is only important if it attains your goal.

5 Marketing and Communications Local First... Communicating effectively with your own local stakeholders is one of the most critical core principles of a collaborative economic development planning framework. At all stages of the planning and implementation process, practitioners need to ensure they are communicating openly with residents and businesses. Keep your mission and message in front of your stakeholders, prospective investors and the market at large. Coordinate various creative, cost-effective approaches to share success stories with your community in your own voice. Good communication is really the key tool for building trust among stakeholders at every stage of the process. It will open doors for alliances, increase existing partnerships and nurture champions for your causes. The more information shared, the less likely anyone will feel that the process was closed to their input, and the more effective development efforts will be. Developing a Community Marketing Plan To attract industry, new residents, or visitors, a community must often market itself beyond its geographic boundaries. A marketing program may include advertising in printed publications, use of other media, public relations, promotions, and an Internet presence. The core elements of a community marketing plan are as follows: (a) Description of the community What does the community have to offer? It is important to have a detailed description of all local assets. (b) Marketing Objectives What do you hope to achieve? (c) Identify Strengths (Strategic Advantages), Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats Should be focused on each specific marketing objective. d) Identify and Prioritize Target Markets Which markets would most effectively help you achieve your objectives? (e) Marketing Strategies and Action Plans What activities will best help you to reach your target markets? Who will implement the activities, how and by when? This will include the marketing mix all channels that will be utilized (media and otherwise) to reach your market. (f) Monitoring and Evaluation What responses are you receiving? Is the distribution effective? Are the right markets reached? Basic Community Marketing Tools Community Profile Brochure Website Business cards Letterhead/Stationary address Maps (lot/block/plan maps, zoning, streets, regional view) Business Directory Investment attraction materials (eg: availability of utilities, business tax incentives, potential labour force, quality of life information)

6 Project Development Communities and regions that have identified a project through strategic planning activities may follow the eleven step project development process below. Step 1: Project Identification & Qualification The Strategic Planning Process is the most effective way to select potential projects for development. Step 2: Project Management The project development process is all about managing risk. In any new venture there will be risks, but by following a pre-determined process, with predetermined decision points, the risks of the project can be reduced and managed. Step 3: Retaining Legal Services Retaining a good, experienced corporate and securities lawyer to assist in dealing with the numerous legal issues that will arise in planning, developing and operating the project is important. Step 4: Project Planning Like building a house where the quality of the foundation or starting point affects the rest of the project, so too will the development of a Corporate Plan or Corporate development plan affect the rest of the project development process. Step 5: Pre-Feasibility Analysis The purpose of the pre-feasibility study is to take a quick look at the industry that you are entering into specific to your project. You can also determine at this point whether you will need a partner in order to get a positive result in developing your project. Step 6: Feasibility Study In the pre feasibility study you determined that generally speaking there was a market for products like the ones you will produce or services like the services you want to deliver. At this point you will want to determine if there is a market specifically for your products of services. Step 7: Business Plan Development The business plan is more than the development of a document it is a process which is as important as the document itself. Step 8: Incorporation Knowledge gained of the different forms of business structures will assist the project development team to properly assess the most effective structure to use.

7 Step 9: Financing The probability of successfully financing your project will be increased considerably if a comprehensive financing strategy is developed at the very earliest stages of the planning process and then incorporated into the Business Plan and fine tuned as the Business Plan is implemented. An experienced securities lawyer who understands the intricacies of securities legislation; as well as understanding some of the practical realities of raising money in rural Saskatchewan, can be of invaluable assistance in the development of this financing strategy. Step 10: Implementation An Implementation Plan should include: A measurable target that is tied to the vision, mission, and goals of the project The steps or activities required to achieve the goal A timeline for all of the activities which includes interim progress indicators and check points The person designated to be responsible for ensuring each activity is completed and for reporting on progress A description of any professional development and skills training that may be required A description of financial, material, and human resources that are required Step 11: Post Project Evaluation A formal analysis and documentation of the project s results including cost, schedule and technical performance versus the original plan should be part of the evaluation.

8 Business Investment & Attraction A systematic process for assessing the investment readiness of your community and encouraging businesses to invest. Business attraction and recruitment was once considered the main approach to economic development. However, because of the high costs of economic development marketing, attraction is often the most expensive approach to economic development. The attraction of new businesses into an economy may quickly increase the tax base, number of jobs and the diversity of the local economy. Targets of attraction efforts include advanced manufacturers, high technology firms, retail and service sector employers, corporate headquarters, sports teams and entertainment venues. Business attraction programs use marketing to promote an area s favorable business climate, and other location factors important to specific businesses. To successfully engage in business attraction, a community or region must be able to provide accurate, up-to-date information in a timely manner. The information collected about the community and region must be easily tailored to each specific inquiry rather than a couple of standard brochures. The community/region must be willing to develop relationships with target industry decision-makers to make sure they know about your town market area.

9 Business Retention & Expansion A process for encouraging the retention and expansion of business interests currently located in your community. Once considered an afterthought, Business Retention and E xpansion (BRE) is now a critical component of local and regional economic development strategies. Research shows that 60-80% of future job growth results from the expansion of existing industries. Successfully executed business retention and expansion programs can: Assist firms in becoming more productive and more externally competitive. Increase the supply and quality of the workforce. Encourage spin-off developments and businesses activities. Assist firms in expanding their markets or product lines. Encourage local companies to go upmarket in the value chain. Communities benefit from the processes employed in a BRE program including: Through the identification of a community s strengths and weaknesses, an effective strategic plan can be developed. BRE sends a clear signal of the community s pro-business attitude. Enhanced cooperation between public and private development agencies and leaders. The industrial infrastructure of the community can be improved, thereby making it more conducive to future expansion or business attraction. Enhanced understanding of key development issues by public officials. The net result of one or more of these processes is typically a stronger, more competitive business community that has the capacity to expand its job creation capacity. CONTACT THE SEDA OFFICE FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE PROVINCE WIDE BUSINESS COUNTS SASKATCHEWAN PROGRAM. Business Counts provides software, tools and training for economic developers to implement a business retention and expansion program in their community or region.

10 DON T FORGET TO Measure your performance Economic developers face ongoing challenges in demonstrating the value of their programs and services to the local community or region in which they serve. Performance measures and benchmarks should be built into the strategic plan for the community and the economic developer must be diligent in recording activities to assist in quantitative measurement. To measure success, one must have information. When measuring the impact of an initiative or project, the economic developer must consider the following Methodology Goals: 1. Try to quantify costs and benefits. 2. Make the measurement rationale easy to understand and justify. 3. Use flexible methods based on quality and availability of local data (the smaller the centre, the more difficult this can be.) 4. Be as objective and precise as possible. 5. Results are ESTIMATES and have a margin of error (we are only as good as our information.) Using Hard and Soft Indicators Quantitative - expanded tax base, population growth, number of clients served, number of businesses established. Qualitative - perceptions of safety, environmental quality, effectiveness of government, quality of infrastructure, community pride. Indicators provide an analysis of the impact a project has on the community or organization. These can be: Direct Effects - a capital injection from outside the region leads to change or growth. Indirect Effects - new jobs or production increases resulting from an influx of new capital. Induced Effects - an increase in jobs or production required to meet an increase in demand for goods and services, generated by increased purchasing power from the direct and indirect effects. These are, in technical terms, actually called multipliers and there are several kinds that can be utilized. A multiplier is represented as a simple ratio. Most multipliers are calculated as: Multiplier = Total Change Initial Change

11 Outcome Based Planning The Logic Model approach to planning provides a proactive means of monitoring your endeavor. Your Objectives and Strategies are aligned with Resources (inputs), Tasks and Action Plans (endeavour) and Desired Results (outcomes). OBJECTIVES STRATEGIES INPUTS Time Funding Staff Volunteers Facilities Partners ACTIVITIES Tactics and tasks to achieve particular results. MEASURING OUTCOMES Success measurement that indicate progress towards the vision. Specific metrics or implementation milestones that measure progress on your selected strategies. For more information please contact: PH : FAX : TOLL FREE : SEDA

12 Ph : Fax : Toll Free : seda seda

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