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BBA Economic Digest

A New Urban Crisis? Yes, Virginia, there is good life in small-town America. It's true that 25 metros account for more than half the country's economy. But a recent report by the economic analysis firm Emsi shows there is life beyond the superstar coastal metros. Much of it has to do with the cost of living and the cost of doing business. What Richard Florida, the co-founder of CityLab, is calling a "new urban crisis" is prompting a talent shift away from the coastal superstar cities to smaller and more affordable places. Emsi ranked every county in the U.S. based on job growth, migration flows, education and job openings for skilled work. It looked at big counties (with more than 100,000 pe

BBA Economic Digest

OK Boomer Boards There is a growing realization among economic developers that their boards of directors should better reflect their community's workforce and population. When I go to an economic development website and it features photos of board members, sometimes to the exclusion of staff, I often see a preponderance of older white guys like myself and not much else. In past posts, I have spoken to this issue about mostly gender and race, but I left out age. A new report by the Center for Creative Leadership says generational diversity is important for any boards hoping to tackle big, future issues. Keep in mind that the 20 to 39-year-old generation now accounts for half of the global wor

BBA Economic Digest

Chop Wood, Carry Water The Japanese words kai (change) and zen (good) are used together to form kaizen, which means "change for better.” It is a philosophy of continuous improvement and serves as the basis for the Toyota Production System and what Nick Saban, the University of Alabama's football coach, calls "the process." I believe kaizen can and should be adopted in economic development. Focus on team, respect and getting the fundamentals right. Concentrate on the task at hand, no matter how big or small, eliminate outside distractions, and become the best that you can be. There is always room for improvement. “The key to the Toyota Way and what makes Toyota stand out is not any of the ind

BBA Economic Digest

A Balanced Approach to Economic Development Economic developers focus much if not most of their attention on industry recruitment, with manufacturing, almost by default, a primary goal. If you look at identified target industry groups on economic development websites, chances are that a majority will be manufacturing sectors. Automotive, aerospace, food processing are prime examples. Once a powerhouse of the U.S. economy, manufacturing made up about a quarter of gross domestic product in the 1960s. It was largely responsible for building and sustaining communities and a middle class. But that's the way it was. The Commerce Department reported last week that manufacturing made up 11 percent o

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