Advice for ED agencies

Okay, this is not a sour grapes piece. Well, come to think of it maybe it is.

I want to recommend that economic development agencies that issue RFPs for grand strategies insist that the winning firm have some actual economic development competence on staff.

In the past couple of months, I have seen the ‘final reports’ on several large scale projects and in all cases the ED agency was less than impressed. In most cases, the document was technically correct, well written and usually well-formatted. But, again in almost all cases, the ED agency complained that the consultant “just didn’t get it”.

Now, I’m not saying if you want a sector development strategy, an infrastructure assessment report or a ED strategy document that you don’t need some technical expertise (engineering, financial, etc.) but I am saying that if you are looking for a document that comes at the issue from the perspective of an economic developer (your perspective, one would think), you would want the consultant to know what that is.

Here’s a concrete example. An ED agency in the Maritimes recently hired a firm to do a sector development strategy. The consultant concluded (basically) that no firm in their right mind would ever set up a facility in this specific community and outlined the dozen or so reasons for this this.

I read this document and was floored. The RFP was for a sector development strategy – not a crap on the community strategy.

I am not naive. Sure, there were considerable hurdles that this community needed to get over in order to be in a position to grow said industry but the consultant lacked this nuance.

All I am recommending is that you tack on for a few days and ED consultant to bring that perspective to the table. The final report may still be harsh, but at least it will be well-framed.

You get the sense that I have missed out on a few RFPs lately? 🙂