EconDev 101: Educating Your Stakeholders

Economic development is hard work. It is made no easier by the fact that local policymakers typically have only a cursory understanding of what economic development is. 


That can lead to misunderstandings and unreasonable expectations, which in turn can hamstring an economic development organization. In extreme cases, it can lead to resignations and firings. 

Our one-day, crash-course seminar is designed to give community leaders a better understanding of how economic development works in the real world.

We will discuss business climate and fundamental principles of industry recruitment, business retention and expansion, and creating a favorable environment for entrepreneurship. We will differentiate the traded-goods sector, industries exposed to international competition (typically manufacturing), from the non-traded sector, comprising all other goods (typically services).


We will discuss how clusters, the concentration of related industries in a particular location, come about and how they can provide a community with a competitive advantage for jobs and capital investment. We will speak to business needs regarding workforce, vocational education and training; transportation and utility infrastructure, real estate, quality of life, taxes, energy, and an assortment of operating costs that come in any given place.

We will discuss how digital technologies -- artificial intelligence, robotics, automation, 3-D printing -- is creating a new reality and how many traditional assumptions no longer hold true.

There is psychology at work in which information from an outside source is often deemed to be more credible than that originating from within the community itself. Local policymakers may be more receptive to learning about the fundamentals of economic development from BBA than from local economic developers. We are not saying that is right, but it is often the case.

When community stakeholders have a better understanding of economic development, the professionals can be more efficient and effective, and that benefits everyone. 


"Dean did a tremendous job serving not only as a sounding board for ideas and helping us think through connections in other markets but also had a willingness to "shoot straight" on the good, bad (and ugly) of our ability to achieve the direction we thought we should be focused on. Would highly recommend Dean for those kind of strategic conversations and would count him as one of the best connections I've made in a while to have good personal conversations about the ED profession and direction of community development. Great person to bring in to deal with community officials, boards, and economic development partners for tough conversations done in a friendly, respectful, and genuine manner." -- Jeff Seymour, CEcD, Executive Vice President, Economic Development at the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber