Getting businesses to move into your community is one thing;
keeping them is another. An estimated 80 percent of all jobs created
come from existing firms, according to Blane, Canada Ltd., a
Wheaton, Ill.-based firm that provides economic development
research, planning and training.
New business attraction may seem more glamorous than business
retention and expansion, but statistics don't lie, reads the
company's newsletter. Work with your existing resources before
searching for new ones. You may be surprised to see what you find.
The Edmond Economic Development Authority is taking that advice
to heart. The EEDA is now using Blane, Canada's Synchronist Business
Information System, a computer program designed to analyze the
current market in the area and identify what steps are needed to
support existing businesses.
With the proper information, EEDA can practice Economic Portfolio
Management, a new approach touted by Blane, Canada. Think of the
companies in a community as parts of an investment portfolio, reads
The Missing Link: A Vision for R&D, a white paper report published
by Blane, Canada in Sept. 2002. The value of the portfolio is the
sum total of the value of the individual companies. An investor is
constantly asking about growth potential, value, diversity, balance,
When practicing Economic Portfolio Management, the aim is to
maximize the overall growth of the entire portfolio - in this case
the economy of the community - rather than just focusing on the
demands of the individual business.
Like an investor, community leadership should be asking, which
are our most valuable companies? according to The Missing Link.
Which are our growth companies? Which companies are stable? Which
companies are in decline? Now, given that knowledge (value, growth,
risk), how should the economic development organization invest their
resources (incentives, loans, grants, staff time, etc.)? Should
other community and private economic development resources be
directed to maximize the potential of individual companies? Should
the portfolio be conservatively or aggressively managed? Is the
portfolio being neglected? What is the cost/consequence of a failure
In the coming months, EEDA will be contacting local businesses to
set up interviews to glean the information the Synchronist system
requires to evaluate each company's value to the community, growth
potential, risk of relocation or downsizing, overall satisfaction
and employment trends. Interviewers will ask businesses about their
number of employees, what skill sets they are looking for in new
hires, and recent changes the companies have made in ownership,
management or technology.
Synchronist also takes note of executives' comments on the
community's positive and negative attributes, including the business
climate, infrastructure, the quality of the work force, community
planning, etc. The program is able to generate reports based on this
information, organized by industry types, ZIP codes, company size
and more. …