Road To Recovery: SLV Economic Update
Group Identifies Priorities
Old businesses needing new help. New businesses needing mature, experienced employees. Affordable housing. Transportation to jobs. Financing for Small Business.
Take your pick, as the topic was likely covered at the recent Southern Colorado Economic Development Summit held earlier this month in Alamosa. The following press release was distributed to media outlets by the San Luis Valley Development Resources Group & Council of Governments (!) and is published as is, including links for more details and contact information for SLVDRG.
If you have relevant news for Saguache and Saguache County, Colorado, please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Grow, Expand Biz Goal of ED
By Hew Hallock, Director of Research, SLVDRG
There are public myths about economic development that detract from the main focus and successes of local economic development efforts, a group representing local governments and regional economic development organizations were told during a recent meeting in Alamosa.
Perhaps the most common myth is that the primary job of economic developers is to attract new industries. Not so, according to Kim Woodworth, the operations director for the Economic Development Council of Colorado. “Business retention and expansion of existing business is the most important job of an economic development program,” she said. “Eight out of ten new jobs come from existing business.”
Kevin Wilkins, executive director of San Luis Valley Development Resources Group, expressed the same sentiment. ““Seventy percent of economic development efforts should focus on existing businesses,” Wilkins said, adding, “get to know your existing businesses and what they need.”
The meeting was billed as the Southern Colorado Economic Development Summit and drew an attendance of over 30 from communities such as Pueblo and Pagosa Springs, as well as from towns and counties in the San Luis Valley including San Luis, Del Norte, Alamosa and Saguache and Mineral counties. It was hosted by San Luis Valley Development Resources Group (SLVDRG) as part of an initiative funded by the U.S. Economic Development Administration to address the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Among other myths debunked were that local financial incentives are necessary to attract new businesses. Those kinds of incentives cannot compensate for a bad business decision, cautioned Wilkins. Other factors are much more important in the decision to locate in a community, such as the availability of a trained workforce, proximity to production resources, the transportation network, and if there are other businesses in the area involved in the same industry.
Also, important to a prospective business is if those incentives have strings attached. Many businesses shy away from incentives packages that might mean delays in their location project, or that require extensive record-keeping and uncomfortable public disclosures. “The best deals for incentives are the simplest deals. Know when to get out of the way,” advised Wilkins.
Both Woodworth and Wilkins counseled communities to view economic development as a continual process and not a single event. “You never want to get rid of your economic development program,” cautioned Woodworth. “That is like a business getting rid of marketing.
“Economic development is not static. It is constant,” Wilkins said. “It is nothing but salesmanship.”
Hew Hallock is the Director of Research for SLVDRG and may be reached at email@example.com.