Monthly Archives: May 2008

Mississippi State Wins DOE And GM Challenge X 2008 Advanced Vehicle Competition

ScienceDaily (May 21, 2008) — Mississippi State University in Starkville, Miss. is the first place winner of Challenge X, in which 17 university teams from across the U.S. and Canada competed to reengineer a General Motors (GM) Chevrolet Equinox Crossover SUV with advanced powertrain configurations. The winner of the competition achieved high fuel economy and low emissions, all while maintaining driver comfort and vehicle performance.  Read more.

Are economic development subsidies worth it?

It’s hard to know if they are not measured.  I came across an interesting column by David Campbell in the New Brunswick, Canada, Business Journal.  He pointed out that “… despite offering the most lucrative business incentives in Canada, Investissement Québec claims to have a cost-benefit ratio of 3.74 to 1.”  He goes on to say that he looked at a dozen economic development agencies, and only two reported a cost-benefit analysis of their efforts.

Does your state, county or town follow-up its economic subsidies with a cost-benefit analysis?

The Low Side of the Street

Spoke to the Rotary Club in Eupora the other day and had a delicious meal at the Magnolia Grill on N. Dunn Street.  Cynthia Wilson, Executive Director of the Webster County Development Council, gave me directions telling me that it was on, “…on the low side.”  I wasn’t certain what that meant and did not ask.  I found out later that the west side of North Dunn Street in downtown Eupora is literally higher than the east side.  The locals use “high side” or “low side” to refer to which side.

That’s the kind of little thing that makes a community unique.

By the way, if you like good food and good people in restaurants in restored, downtown buildings the you will like the Magnolia Grill in Eupora, the Crown in Indianola and Kittrell’s on the Square in Lexington.

What? No company database?

Eric P. Canada & Nancy A. Blane, of Blane Canada, an economic development consulting firm, write in their latest newsletter that “…seven out of 10 economic development organizations we work with do not have a database of the primary companies in the community.”

Every economic developer should be on a first name basis with the largest employers in the community.

Local Government Web Sites – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, Part 1

In my business I use Web sites of city governments, chambers of commerce and economic development agencies on a daily basis.  It seems that city government Web sites in particular are going through a phase right now.  They are becoming either really good or really poor.  Put another way, it seems that cities have either made the commitment to get on the Web in a professional way, or they have abandoned their sites.  In this post, I’ll discuss what I notice in well-done city Web sites. Here’s my list of major annoyances with poor city Web sites:

1.  Out of date – I look on the calendar of events and see old information.  Some cities try to get around maintaining up-to-date Web sites by just putting annual recurring events on the site.  Nice try.

2.  No contact information – Most of my visits to a city Web site involve attempting to find contact information.  I’m looking for a phone number or an up-to-date (see # 1) e-mail address.  I despise clicking on a CONTACT US link only to be rewarded with a form box to fill in, followed by a message that my issue will be investigated and someone will get back in touch with me.

3.  Poor design –  Some Web sites just look like they were constructed 10 years ago and just left to sit on the Web.

4.  More poor design – City Web sites should have an overall theme and a template.  When each department’s Web page looks nothing like the portal page it is a sign to me that the city does not coordinate its departments and activities.

Oh, if you would like to tell me about your favorite city Web site, I’d love to post it.

Mississippi’s Tort Reform Triumph

Stephen Moore, Senior Economic Writer for the Wall Street Journal, says in today’s column that”… four years ago, Mississippi transformed itself from judicial hell hole to job magnet, a story that is instructive for other states trying to attract jobs in turbulent economic times. The lessons here are especially timely, because the pro-growth tort reform trend that was once spreading across the country may soon reverse course.”

Read the complete column.  

 

CDF in Tupelo named in Top Ten economic development organizations.

Site Selection magazine has named the Community Development Foundation, headquartered in Tupelo, Mississippi, to its 2007 list of Top Ten economic development groups in the United States.  The selection is based on the following criteria:

total capital investment;
investment per capita;
total jobs created;
jobs created per capita;
the contributions of the local or regional economic development organization toward the attainment of these numbers;
overall economic vitality;
depth and breadth of economic strength;
diversity of industry;
ability to generate breakthrough deals;
and the ability to provide verifiable documentation for all projects. 

A Better Way to Zone: Ten Principles to Create More Liveable Cities

The above-titled book by Donald Elliott will be of interest to planners and zoning officials.  According to the author’s Web site, “A Better Way to Zone provides a vision of future zoning that is not tied to a particular picture of how cities should look, but is instead grounded in how cities should work.”

The principles are:

1 – More Flexible Uses
2 – The Mixed Use Middle
3 – Attainable Housing
4 – Mature Area Standards
5 – Living With Non-Conformities
6 – Dynamic Development Standards
7 – Negotiated Large Developments
8 – Depoliticized Final Approvals
9 – Better Webbing
10 -Scheduled Maintenance