Monday, July 26, 2010

The Role of Economic Developers in Creating Quality Jobs (New IEDC Report)

This week's guest post was authored by Louise Anderson, Senior Associate at the International Economic Development Council.

Job creation remains a key measure of success for economic development efforts. But the era in
which nearly any job was a “good job,” to a certain extent, is over. Growth in the economy is becoming increasingly bifurcated, with high-tech, high-wage jobs on one hand and low-wage, largely service-sector jobs on the other. Economic developers find it increasingly challenging to create jobs that deliver the kinds of wages and benefits that were standard in the industrial era.

A recent report from the International Economic Development Council,
Creating Quality Jobs – Transforming the Economic Development Landscape, shows how economic development is transforming in response to a changing economy. Creating quality jobs and rebuild the middle class in a global, knowledge-driven economy requires new strategies, new partners, new goals and new metrics of success.

Creating Quality Jobs – Transforming the Economic Development Landscape, is based on in-depth case studies of seven communities: Ponca City, Okla.; San Jose; Newton, Iowa; Albuquerque, N.M.; Tupelo, Miss.; Pittsburgh and Akron. The cases reveal an emerging framework for economic development, one aimed at creating broad-based prosperity through the transformation of both the regional economy and the institutions that support it. The framework has seven components:
  • Alignment in a Regional Context
  • Engaged Local Leadership
  • Incorporating Inclusion
  • Building Capacity
  • Building on Existing Assets
  • Basing Plans on Solid Research
  • Innovation and Entrepreneurship
While each case represents a different variant of this new framework, their common goal is a more systemic approach to job creation, with the objective of creating sustainable, quality jobs in a more resilient, more diverse economy. You can access a PDF of the Creating Quality Jobs – Transforming the Economic Development Landscape on IEDC’s website:

Monday, July 19, 2010

Economic Inclusion in City Awarded Contracts

This post was authored by D. Joy McGee, EDD's newest division volunteer blogger!

Small business enterprises (SBE) are critical to our economy, they create employment
opportunities, and help the United States compete in today’s global market. Government at all levels is heavily invested in making sure SBEs succeed. Yet, even in the current recession there are prime government contracting opportunities for which minority- and women-owned businesses often are not utilized. Acknowledging the disparity of city contracts awarded to minority- and women-owned businesses, some cities have created task forces, city departments and programs to foster minority economic inclusion. To create this economy of inclusion, a procurement plan must include goals to expand the number of small- minority- and women-business enterprises (SBE/ MBE/WBE) to do business with the city by removing obstacles.

Why is minority inclusion a challenge? Some of the challenges that SBEs, MBEs and WBEs face include, but are not limited to, marketplace discrimination, obtaining certifications, bonding and insurance, technical expertise and capacity, and believing that opportunities are tangible. What can be done to close the gap and to make sure that significant disparities don’t continue to persist? Best practices include but are not limited to:
  • executive buy-in;
  • streamlining the process of certifications;
  • technology used to promote outreach and diversity;
  • training and promoting staff;
  • building partnerships among the public and private sector and outreach;
  • strategic use of under threshold contracts, and;
  • preparing minority and women-owned businesses to bid for large contracts.
Should cities adopt a race based or a race neutral program or a combination of both? In 2009, Cincinnati, OH and San Antonio, TX made commitments to improve their current procurement policies and SBE programs.

The City of Cincinnati
has a race neutral SBE program. The task force, Open Cincinnati Action Team, was commissioned by Mayor Mark Mallory to make recommendations aimed at accelerating minority firms doing business with the City. If economic inclusion has not improved within 18 months of implementing the 27 task force recommendations, the Action Team recommends that the City commission a disparity study to examine if a race based program with goals and/or set asides will work in its jurisdiction.

The City of San Antonio
commissioned a study in 2006 to determine what, if any, evidence of disparities exist in procurement practices related to the ethnicity, race, or gender of the business owner. As a result of MGT of America, Inc. findings and recommendations, City Council determined that a combination of race- and gender-neutral and race- and gender-conscious remedies and programs will aid in the effort to remedy past marketplace discrimination. City government’s economic power can be employed to create an economic inclusion program that is committed to breaking down barriers. A disparity study can be conducted to analyze procurement practices and to determine which economic inclusion program should be utilized.

City government’s economic power can be employed to create an economic inclusion program that is committed to breaking down barriers. A disparity study can be conducted to analyze procurement practices and to determine which economic inclusion program should be utilized.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Economic Development in a Transforming Energy Economy - New IEDC Report Available to the Public

Today's guest blog is authored by Elizabeth Thorstensen, Senior Associate at the International Economic Development Council (IEDC), and a primary author of the IEDC publication Getting Prepared: Economic Development in a Transforming Energy Economy.

While the specifics of the transition to a low-carbon economy are still being debated, it appears likely that some
type of cap and trade or carbon pricing will emerge. Any effort to price carbon will hold significant implications for U.S. industries, regions and the nation. The International Economic Development Counicl (IEDC) recently published a report, Getting Prepared: Economic Development in a Transforming Energy Economy, designed to aid economic developers and others in related fields in positioning their economies to benefit from the transition. While IEDC does not specifically promote a cap and trade policy, we recognize that this is an important emerging issue that those in the economic development and allied professions need to be aware of and to understand.

To understand how states are preparing for this changing policy paradigm, IEDC convened a
group of state economic development leaders in the fall of 2009. The meeting was intended to explore the opportunities and challenges presented by a regional or economy-wide move toward carbon pricing. The states represented diverse geographies and economic circumstances.

Following this meeting, IEDC selected nine states to profile in the Getting Prepared report to better understand how states are already transitioning to the low-carbon economy and working to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Across the majority of states examined for this report, we found a significant amount of GHG mitigation activity, much of which is linked to economic development or is in the process of developing such linkages. Policies such as renewable energy standards, state and local energy efficiency strategies, new building codes, as well as clean tech development and deployment have tremendous implications for economic development.

If national and local economies are to maintain and increase their competitiveness, reduction of GHGs must be understood as beneficial to the future health of the economy, not just the environment. Almost all states are now taking steps toward changing their energy profiles and incorporating sustainability into their economies. The challenge of transitioning to a clean energy economy will be to employ and connect all of these pieces in a synergistic way. Given that cap and trade, or carbon pricing may relatively soon become a reality of the American economy, changes and preparation are needed if it’s going to be a smooth transition. How economic developers build systems that will aid the transition and tap into its potential is of critical importance.

Despite the diversity of their assets all of the states featured in Getting Prepared indicated some movement toward greater preparedness in light of a shifting energy economy. That preparedness emerged in four areas detailed in the report:

  • Policy drivers;
  • Investments in innovation;
  • Transition assistance, and;
  • New partnership development.
While some policies stand alone, others are part of a set of complementary policies that are capable of transitioning economies over the long term. The integration of the business community, government, workforce intermediaries, utilities, and entrepreneurs will all be vital for the transition to grow organically rather than reactively or behind the curve.

Unlike the biotech sector, in which only a few regions were favored by sustained federal R&D funding, all communities can stand to benefit from the transition to a lower-carbon economy. Therefore, the real story is that preparedness is an economic driver in and of itself. The more you invest, the more prepared you are, but you’re also starting to drive your economy into more dynamic areas of growth. The key will lie in balancing acceptable climate change policies with economic assets in a way that advances GHG mitigation while driving growth.

To find out more and to read the full report, please go to: