Economic Development Programs for Cities, Counties, and Towns

By John M. Levy | Go to book overview

9
Assessing Economic Development Potential

The most appropriate place to begin planning an economic development program is a realistic assessment of the development potential of the area. Such an assessment provides guidance for the expenditure of the development agency's necessarily limited money, energy, and legal and political powers. No initial assessment will prove entirely accurate. As the economic developer has contact with firms, brokers, bankers, property owners, and others, his or her insight into the area will increase. Unanticipated strengths and opportunities, weaknesses and problems, will emerge. Thus, like most plans, the initial assessment is meant to be modified. Nonetheless, a general assessment of the area's strengths and weaknesses should be undertaken either before the agency is founded or, if not, early in the history of the agency. Once the agency is in full operation, time for research and planning will be hard to come by.

A systematic evaluation of the area's strengths and weaknesses will not only help in planning, but will also provide a basis for justifying, defending, and explaining the program, both to the public and within the councils of government. An unrealistic view of an area's potential leads to wasted effort, expectations that cannot be met, and ultimate disillusionment. Admittedly, the political climate is often such that the economic developer cannot be absolutely candid with his or her employers or the citizenry in general. A certain note of obligatory optimism seems to come with the territory. But he or she can at least look at the facts as objectively as possible for internal purposes.

As noted earlier, most economic development agencies are likely to accomplish more through the nurturing of existing industry than through the recruitment of new industry. Thus it is important to consider strengths and

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Economic Development Programs for Cities, Counties, and Towns
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Tables ix
  • Preface xi
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - The Political Context of Economic Development 11
  • 3 - Organization and Personnel 19
  • 4 - Recent Economic Changes 25
  • 5 - The Role of the States 39
  • 6 - What Does and Does Not Work 47
  • Notes 61
  • 7 - Reasonable Expectations 63
  • 8 - Public Relations, Advertising, and Marketing 67
  • 9 - Assessing Economic Development Potential 83
  • 10 - Development Planning 103
  • 11 - Development Financing 117
  • 12 - Labor Market and Fiscal Impacts 131
  • 13 - Local Economic Development in the National Picture 151
  • Appendix. Economics for the Economic Developer 165
  • Bibliography 169
  • Index 171
  • About the Author 175
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