05 Jan 2015








Ten Achievable New Year’s Resolutions for Economic Developers

Anatalio Ubalde is an economic developer, entrepreneur, and inventor. He works with organizations throughout the nation to foster enhanced economic development strategies using Internet technology. His work in geographic information systems, economic development and the Internet has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Forbes, Fortune, The New York Times, TechCrunch, and Inc. In 2009 he was named a Fellow Member of the International Economic Development Council for achieving exceptional stature in the field of economic development.

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Outrageously high goals are wonderful. However more easily achievable small goals can cumulatively lead to big things. In that spirit, here are 10 resolutions you can make and definitely achieve as an economic developer in 2015:


1. Revive downtown – Vibrant communities have energetic downtowns, and downtowns are making a big comeback due to demographic and economic reasons. Your downtown likely has an infrastructure filled with underutilized assets. Here’s an idea: start a Main Street program.


2. Start local – Focus greater attention on the true economic engine of your community: the local entrepreneurs. Reallocate a greater portion of your time away from business attraction and into local business assistance. Here’s an idea: provide business intelligence to all your local companies.


3. Plant a seed – Much of our work as economic developers is focused on quick wins. Try starting a program or strategy that will pay off big if it has enough time to succeed. Begin a project that may take 5 or 10 years to achieve the breakthrough.  Here’s an idea: start a private-sector business accelerator.


4. Fish where the fish are – Companies are researching and making decisions online. They are searching for information uniquely relevant to their business needs. Engage with them using customizable services and information on your website. Here’s an idea: plug in Intelligence Components to your existing website.


5. Go somewhere new – Going to the same old conferences and trade shows are, at best, likely going to deliver only marginally better results that you are already experiencing. These conferences are probably filled with other economic developers attending obvious conferences. Try attending a new conference that could deliver big, undiscovered opportunities. Here’s an idea: attend TechCrunch Disrupt.


6. Lift people up – No one needs economic development more than the poor. Yes economic development strategies often target the creation of high wage jobs that the poor will not be qualified for, when what they really need is an average paying job. Develop a plan or partnership that will raise up those most in need. Here’s an idea: implement a micro-finance program to help people help themselves.


7. Read a book - You don’t have to invent every idea from scratch. Great ideas can come from outside of our profession that are directly relevant to our work. Someone may have already written a book about the challenges you’re facing. It's Mark Zuckerberg's resolution for 2015Here’s an idea: read When the Boomers Bail or Economic Development Marketing.


8. Get big through small – Every big business was once a small business. In business and baseball, "small ball" adds up to runs scored. Small businesses create net new jobs and represent 99% of all companies. Here’s an idea: cross promote small business services with your local SBA and SBDC offices.


9. Learn from your peers – Nobody knows the challenges you’ve seen and are going to face like your fellow economic developers. Learn from their successes and failures through the conversations they are sharing. Here’s an idea: Get your colleagues’ wisdom by joining Economic Development Leadership.


The last resolution on the list might not be so easy, but it is an issue that is often at the core of every community. It holds us back from moving forward. Yet if it is achieved, it can unlock economic development:


10. Make peace – There is conflict in every place which inhibits the entire community from achieving its true potential in which all members of the population improve their economic standing. Identify the things putting people at odds with each other and which are preventing economic development. Here’s an idea: listen to what people are complaining about that makes sense to you and help them overcome the struggle.

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