The Disconnect Between Economic Developers and Community Developers

In some communities it seems that economic developers and community developers are as different as night and day. That is no wonder given the roles that each are expected to play. But in some communities and at the state level these roles are becoming more blended as communities recognize the advantages of these groups working together.

Generally, economic developers, because of their emphasis on jobs and economy, tend to be around business leaders and organizations that are concerned with private sector employment. Community developers, because of their emphasis on serving the needs of low and moderate income persons, tend to be around social service providers and others with similar concerns. In many cases, the political philosophies of the two are far apart. And in many cases, the two groups are not in constant contact with each other about their communities’ future. As some would say, they are just cut from a different cloth. That is not the case at the state level.

The Mississippi Development Authority, formerly known as the Mississippi Department of Economic and Community Development, has for many years placed both functions under the same umbrella. It is responsible not only for economic development, but community development as well. The result is a more cohesive and coordinated approach.

Local leaders may benefit by examining whether there is a disconnect between economic development and community development in their communities, and then finding the right combination for them. There is not a perfect model, but when the two entities do not work together the outcome is less than desirable.

Five Elements of Effective Slogans or Tags and Three Pitfalls to Avoid

What’s your favorite slogan?  What’s the most effective slogan, motto or tagline you’ve ever heard?

Some that come to mind are “Just do it,” “Can you hear me now?” and “Plop, plop, fizz,fizz.”  That last one probably reveals my age range.  :) So what makes an effect slogan or tagline?  We consulted with Rich Winter, Creative Director at Marketing Alliance, an economic development marketing firm, and he offered some useful advice.  Here ’tis:

5 Elements of Effective Slogans or Tags and 3 Pitfalls to Avoid

1.    Memorable – Can your tag be recalled from memory? Use relevant, provocative images and copy to reinforce your slogan. Use of jingles, puns, and rhymes are good ways of making the line unforgetable.

2.    Key Benefit – Sell the benefits, not the features. The benefit should be believable and not just an overinflated claim.

3.    Differentiate the Brand – The slogan should depict a characteristic about the brand that sets it apart from the competition. Keep in mind the target audience. 

4.    Recall the Brand Name – If the brand name isn’t in the tagline, it should be strongly suggested through other visuals or text. Rhyming tags can be useful when incorporating a brand name in the tag.

5.    Call to Action – Does your tag move the reader to do something? Does it impart positive feelings about the brand?


1.    Trendy Tags – Slogans and tags should stand the test of time. Avoid using time sensitive references in a slogan you expect to use long term. Catchy taglines try to be trendy without much success. A new trend is the one-word line (“Driven”) or using 3 terse ideas separated by a period (“Check. Create. Inspire”). Also avoid buzzwords in your tag line.

2.    Tags that Could be Used by a Competitor – Don’t use tags that offer no competitive differentiation, such as “Simply the Best”. These tags can be hijacked by any other competitor. If a competitor’s name can be easily substituted for your brand in a slogan, the slogan might need work. 

3.    Claims – Avoid using tags that make claims that can’t be substantiated or measured.

Avoid this common mistake in your email marketing strategy.

I just received an email from a local marketing company on whose mailing list I subscribed to. The company has a creative CEO and is gaining business in the community. The email messages always seem to have something useful. They are also well-designed, obviously using an HTML template of some kind.

Unfortunately, there is a big problem in the message part of the email. The problem is that when I click on the “Go to our website” phrase my browser opens to an error page that tells me that there is no such server as “your website address here.”

Now the real message that I am getting from the company is something like, “We have creative ideas, but we aren’t really good with the details.”

To avoid this problem with your email marketing strategy, send the first email to yourself, and go through it as if you were the intended recipient.  Click on all the links and read the message out loud. If after do those two things you are happy with it, then blast away to your list.

Parents talk about how to improve schools.

A new report on the Public Agenda website titled “Ready, Willing and Able,” will be of interest to anyone involved in improving schools.  Below is a snippet from Public Agenda’s website that highlights some of the findings from a study in Kansas City.

  • Divided on what kind of involvement will best improve schools. 52 percent say it is improving the quality of parental involvement at home, versus 42 percent who say that it is getting parents more directly involved in running schools.
  • Split on how they prefer to be involved. 31 percent seem ready to embrace broader roles in shaping how schools operate and advocating for policy reform. 27 percent say they could help out more in traditional ways at their children’s school, and feel comfortable to do so. Another 19 percent are primarily looking for more guidance from their schools on how to help their children succeed.
  • Often not as involved as they would like to be. Just over half (51 percent) of the region’s parents admit that they could be more involved at their child’s school if they tried hard. Even those parents who said they would feel comfortable advocating for school improvements by contacting public officials and the media have often not been involved in these activities.
  • Supportive of their own teachers and principals. 77 percent say the principals and teachers at their child’s school are connected to the community and have a good feel for what’s going on there.

How to tell when mayoral elections are near.

3-22-2013 – It’s easy to tell when local elections are near by three things that happen.  First, campaign signs appear in supporters’ yards and sprout on public rights-of way. This latter act is especially annoying in view of the fact that it is illegal and that the candidates don’t seem to mind condoning this illegal activity during election season.

Second, very visible signs of activity by the local government begin to occur.  In my town there seems to be a whole lot of new activity in the street paving department. Perhaps that has something to do with the fact the polls are showing that the community ranks bad streets at the top of the list of concerns about local government.

Third, I suddenly receive emails, phone calls inviting me to town meetings and a variety of social media about things that the local government is involved in. No doubt this is paid by the taxpayers, not the campaign. The reason all this happens is apparently because it works. Seems that the adage about “What have you done for me lately?” is at play.

I suppose I really should not complain because I doubt if any streets would ever get repaired in my town if there was not an election on the horizon.


Education is the key to economic development

ARTICLE – MSU’s Stennis Institute Assists Schools (2-27-2013)

Education is the key to economic development. Industries need problem-solvers: educated, trainable workers who can go above and beyond classroom instruction.

Strategic planner Phil Hardwick has seen it time and again in his work as a project manager with Mississippi State University’s John C. Stennis Institute of Government and Community Development. Over the past three years, he’s worked with 13 Northeast Mississippi schools to increase the numbers of students admitted to college.  More…

Trends in Economic Development – 2013

Jay Moon, Immediate Past-Chair of the International Economic Development Council and current President and CEO of the Mississippi Manufacturers Association, addressed the Mississippi Economic Development Council today on the subject of Trends in Economic Development.  Here are my notes from his remarks:

Global competition will increase;

Attracting capital will be more difficult;

Budget cuts will increase;

Business closures and downsizing will occur at a more rapid pace;

There will be an absolute need to increase efficiency in the business community;

Accountability will be the rule – for everyone;

Natural and man-made disasters will continue to affect economies and businesses;

Energy markets will be shifting; and

There will be multiple labor market and workforce challenges.