Monthly Archives: July 2014

If you had $18 million to invest in your community, what would you focus on?

There are few things more important to community and economic development than good schools. That’s why I’ve often said that the greatest thing that could happen to my city would be that the public schools were so good that there would be a waiting list for students to get in. Consequently, I’m interested in following projects that attempt to improve schools and communities.

The Kalamazoo Promise is one such project. Basically, it is a community revitalization project begun in 2006 that offers incentives – in this case, scholarships – for families that move into Kalamazoo, Michigan. It is an economic development project that invests in human capital. As of summer 2010, the program had paid out $18 million in tuition for about 2,000 high school graduates to attend Michigan universities. Below are links to webpages that provide more information about the project. So here is the question to you: If you had $18 million to invest in your community, where would you put it?

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The Kalamazoo Promise website.
Why these kids get a free ride to college – NY Times article
Kalamazoo Promise article at Wikipedia
Kalamazoo Promise featured on NBC Nightly News

 

Successful economic developers look thorugh the customer’s eyes

July 7, 2014

“What do I have to do to win your business?”

That’s a common question (or comment) heard from auto dealership lots to office suites. It’s how many salespersons have been trained to open up the customer to begin negotiations. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s a way for the salesperson to show that he or she doesn’t know much about the customer.

Economic developers are many things: Facilitators, information specialists, real estate finance experts, and – yes – salespersons. Good salespersons know that one of the best things to do is to put one’s self in the shoes of the customer, so to speak, because sometimes even the customer doesn’t know what it takes to win his or her business.

The July/August issue of Inc. magazine contains an article entitled, “The Come-Hither Tax Breaks.” It discusses how companies should be prepared “… to be wooed and persuaded by states looking for a long-term relationship with your technology company.” It is recommended reading for economic developers who want to understand just a little more about how companies view state tax breaks and to see the deal though the customer’s eyes.