Friday, April 9, 2010

Economic Development Division Activities in New Orleans

We look forward to seeing members of the APA Economic Development Division at our Division-related activities and sessions in New Orleans! Events include:

ANNUAL MEETING AND RECEPTION Economic Development Division Annual Meeting & Reception (X018) Monday, 6:30-8:00 pm (Scheduled location is Hilton Hotel, Marlborough A)

• Enjoy free drinks and hors d’oeuvres
• Network with fellow division members
• Discuss the upcoming year’s work plan

Earn CM credits and sharpen skills at the following sessions:

“Measuring Economic Impacts of Scenic Byways” (S411) Sunday, 7:30-8:30 am CM 1.00

Test drive a user-friendly tool that helps local groups measure and communicate the economic impacts generated by their byways. Developed by America’s Byways Resource Center, which supports the 125 National Scenic Byways, this tool is a valuable resource for those fighting to maintain federal, state and local funding support of byways.

“Planning for the Bottom Line” (S414) Sunday, 5:30-6:45 pm CM 1.00

In an economic downturn, improving the financial management of local government is every department’s responsibility. Learn to improve the financial management of the planning department and gain an understanding of how land-use decisions impact a community's overall fiscal condition. Take a leadership role in your community's financial management.

“Riding Out the Recession” (S543)* Monday, 4:00-5:15 pm*EDD-Sponsored SessionCM 1.25

Stagnant housing market. Declining tax base. Shrinking municipal budgets. Rising unemployment. It’s scary. But cities, even those experiencing structural upheaval, have weathered past recessions. And it’s normal for municipal revenues to lag behind. Hear from veteran planners who’ve suffered through this before and learn what to expect in the public and private sectors.

“Social Media in Planning” (S809) Monday, 5:30-6:45 pmCM 1.25

If your agency or firm doesn’t Twitter, blog, or have a Facebook page, it may be missing the boat. Learn to use Internet technologies for public outreach and education. Discuss ways APA members can use these tools for professional networking and education.

“Looking Past Market Cycle Pressures” (S594) Tuesday, 10:30-11:45 amCM 1.25

Market cycles create short-term pressures that need to be reconciled with long-term planning needs. Discuss strategies for looking past market cycles to pragmatically achieve planning goals and a long-range vision. Lessons from San Diego and Aurora, Colorado, illustrate how keeping a planning project steady can push it toward successful completion.

We look forward to seeing you in New Orleans!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

What Do You Wish Your Elected Officials Knew About Economic Development?

This week's post is a guest blog from Christy McFarland, Program Director, Finance & Economic Development, Research & Innovation at the National League of Cities. She can be reached at

We at the National League of Cities are producing a guide for local elected officials based on a list of the “10 Things Local Elected Officials Should Know about Economic Development…and if you don’t you should ask.” This list is sort of call to arms about having informed local elected officials who can support and promote thoughtful economic development policies.
To be sure, we are not trying to turn local elected officials into professional economic developers, but to give them the tools and knowledge to be effective leaders and to build mutually-supportive relationships with their economic development staff. We started this conversation with economic development officials at IEDC’s recent conferences and would welcome your input as well. Have additions, subtractions, or comments about our list? Let us know! The “10 Things Local Elected Officials Should Know about Economic Development…and if you don’t you should ask”:

Informed and Strategic Leader

1. Your local economic strengths and weaknesses, including:
  • What are the major sources of jobs in my town?
  • What available sources of worker training are available in my city, like community colleges, and are they connected to the needs to my local business community?
  • What is the high school graduation rate? Drop-out rate?
  • Local unemployment?
  • Am I up to speed on changing economic conditions?
2. Your community’s economic development goals and vision, including:
  • Are goals and vision based on a “fad” or the realities of my community?
  • Is the economic development vision in sync with longer-term community values?
3. Your community’s strategy to attain these goals, including:
  • What are the tangible outcomes of our vision?
  • How can I be part of a “continuum” of leadership for economic development? (i.e. balancing longer-term nature of economic development with short-term political concerns)
4. How your community fit into the broader regional economy, including:
  • What does/could my community offer to enhance the region’s overall economic strength and environment?
  • What regional organizations or partnerships exist? Are we involved?
Policy Maker Who Can “Connect the Dots”

5. Other city activities that support or impede economic development, including:
  • How do transportation, housing, land use and other policies impact economic development? How do these all work together?
6. Your regulatory environment and budget, including:
  • Are we establishing the right conditions to create jobs?
  • How long does the permitting process take?
  • Does the budget support the expectations I have of my economic development team?
  • Do we offer tax incentives, and under what circumstances?
7. Who needs to be at the table to get the job done, including:
  • Who are the key city staff from various departments and outside organizations who work on these issues?
  • Do I talk to them?
  • What do/can they bring to the table to help achieve our economic development goals?
  • Are there communications barriers between stakeholders and what can I do to break them down?
Effective Communicator

8. The needs of your local business community, including:
  • How does my business community perceive local government?
  • How does my city monitor and respond to the needs of our local business community?
  • How do we celebrate and highlight the achievements of local businesses?
9. How to support your economic development staff and they can support you, including:
  • Am I in regular communication with my economic development staff?
  • Do I trust my staff and do they trust me?
  • Do I empower my staff to make decisions?
  • What type of leader do they need me to be in order to be most effective?
  • What information do I need from them in order to communicate to residents how we are addressing their needs?
10. A consistent message and brand about who we are, including:
  • How do I articulate our economic vision to my citizens?
  • Are all city staff and officials on the same page with the goals and are we delivering a consistent message/brand?