The Top 10 economic development agencies

Site Selection magazine has just ranked the 10 Ten economic development agencies. This is no small feat as there are literally hundreds of these agencies across the United States. But I think there are some great learnings here for economic development groups in Atlantic Canada.

First, bigger is not better. How many times have I heard a relatively small economic development group complaining that they are too small or too rural (yes even the large cities in New Brunswick say that they can’t ‘compete’ with Toronto, Montreal, et. al.). Well, in the US of A, Elgin, Illinois made the list with its measily 100k population. Bloomfield, Colorado’s 48,000 people (county wide) makes it smaller than all but one or two of New Brunswick’s regional economic development agencies. Marion, Indiana has 71,000 people in the entire county. Mooresville, North Carolina is huge with its 25,000 people.

Second, there were several big $100 million+ business investment deals in each of these regions – yes even the ones with 25,000 people. Bernie, get us on the map for investment, please.

Third, virtually every winning agency used a state-of-the-art Web site to generate interest from corporate site selectors and consultants. Question, how many New Brunswick economic development agencies have a ‘site selection’ oriented Web site? One? Two?

Four, online databases of available buildings and sites became a must for top-performing organizations in 2005. Those groups that didn’t have this service simply were not able to compete. How many New Brunswick economic development agencies (including BNB) have this? Here’s a clue. In Spanish it rhymes with ‘dada’.

Lastly, “partnership” became the operative word in 2005. Communities that showed the ability to bring together diverse groups under one united effort to market and promote a geographical area won more projects than stand-alone cities and counties. Geez, how about Moncton and Saint John collaborating? Or, heaven forbid Miramichi and Moncton?

Sorry, folks. I love our ED agencies. I work with half of ’em. But on all of these measures, they don’t have the funding nor the resources to do what would have landed them on this list of Top 10.