Magazine article Public Management

What's the Other "E" in Economic Development?

Magazine article Public Management

What's the Other "E" in Economic Development?

Article excerpt

An entire magazine devoted to economic development! The articles that follow in this issue reinforce how critical a good economic development strategy is to the local government mission. Whether the strategy includes revitalizing a community's main street, attracting jobs, building more robust retail options, or all of the above, it's all about making the community a place where people thrive--where they live, work, and play.

The Question of "What"

The devil is in the details of course. Imbedded in those strategies are ethical values that reflect the unique norms and culture of a community. The leadership challenge is to engage the residents and the business community to make sure that there is some level of agreement on the values so that the right strategy is implemented.

Will success be measured in just the total number of jobs created? Or does the community want to attract employers willing to pay a living wage? In real estate markets where property tax revenues rise as housing values continue to escalate, how much investment in affordable housing is enough?

Are big box stores welcome to fill the retail gap, or are they viewed as an anathema? Is the use of public funds for athletic stadium development appropriate economic development? The list of questions is almost endless.

The high-level questions of which values take precedent are tough to address. Why? Because they most often require us to debate what the ethicist Rushworth Kidder called "right versus right" dilemmas--that is, situations in which the competing principles are both valid and right. …

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