“How do I get companies to locate in my city?” was a top question at packed sessions at the National League of Cities Congress of Cities.
Tracey Nichols, Director of Economic Development for the City of Cleveland encouraged elected leaders to promote their regions first and communities second. Making negative comments about neighboring communities while courting a perspective business often backfires and sends messages of regional dysfunction.
Greg LeRoy, Executive Director of Good Jobs First echoed the need for regional cooperation and pointed to the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation Code of Ethics as a best practice.
Susan Liberty, Vice President, Infrastructure and Economic Development at McGuireWoods Consulting stressed that companies want to see predictability from elected officials and city government staff.
Other take-aways for local elected officials:
– Have streamlined and transparent regulations.
– Be honest and upfront about timelines.
– Make sure your development services and permitting staff cooperates with economic development staff.
– Have existing businesses communicate the merits of your community to prospect businesses.
– Workforce matters – no amount of incentives make up for the lack of readily available talent.
– Quality of life is important. Companies want to locate in a place where their employees want to live.