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Validation For Core Economic Development Strategies

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

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By Tom DiFiore, posted September 16, 2013

Even before the recession and the current slow, jobless recovery, various "experts" have been suggesting that because of the inevitable decline in U.S. manufacturing, traditional economic development strategies aimed at industrial attraction and expansion were becoming obsolete and no longer viable approaches for creating jobs and wealth. In response, many communities and organizations have shifted their focus to strategies designed to attract and retain talent; educate and train their existing workforce; support entrepreneurship and innovation in their communities; and enhance their quality of place. Given the realities of a global, knowledge based economy, these adaptations are certainly prudent and necessary, and have begun to produce dividends for many communities and regions. Unfortunately, many communities do not have (and never will have) the assets needed to compete with or become the next Austin, Raleigh, Seattle, Silicon Valley, Nashville, etc. But many U.S. communities and regions of all sizes have plenty of assets (and the ability to create and enhance assets) upon which they can compete for good manufacturing jobs – jobs that pay well, and are in growth industries.

Encouragingly, there seem to be a number of well informed "contrarians" who do not believe that U.S. manufacturing is destined to a fate of decline and demise at the hands of off shoring and cheap labor in other countries. A few of the most compelling and prescriptive pieces I’ve seen in recent years include a December 2012 article in The Atlantic, and Make it in America by Andrew Liveris And just last week, thanks to Linked In and other sources, I was made aware of two new reports that shed a decidedly positive light on U.S. manufacturing:

Even better, these reports suggest communities may have the benefit of the lead time they need (but not much!) to address education and skills gaps, which will be critical to seizing these opportunities. For any “traditional” economic developers reading this: Use these articles and others as validation of what you know how to do, and marching orders for what you must do!

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“Birmingham Landmarks, Inc. certainly made the right decision in selecting NCDS to raise the $7 million needed to fully restore our sadly dilapidated and abandoned former vaudeville theatre in downtown Birmingham.  Your firm provided the wisdom and experience to position the project as worthy of support, then structured a winning campaign that was creative, energizing, and relentless in pursuit of the goal.  We were especially appreciative of your flexibility relative to our early cash flow issues, and even more so in the selection of the assigned NCDS Project Executive.  Because of the success and momentum of your phase of this exceptional campaign, the Lyric staff was able to continue seeking commitments utilizing tax credits, and the total raised now exceeds $11.8 million.  Thanks to NCDS, Birmingham can boast of having one of the most spectacularly restored performing arts theaters in America.”

Brant Beene, Executive Director • Birmingham Landmarks, Inc.

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