Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Back to the Basics

This is an article that definitely applies to the economic development profession.  It is on the Fortune magazine website.  The authors are Dr. Michael Porter and Jan Rivlin.
I do not always agree with Dr. Porter, but this piece is very helpful.  It offers valuable advice to businesses, education institutions, and communities.  However, the most appropriate section of the article follows the heading “Build the Commons and the Business.”
As you read beyond the heading an economic development professional will find Dr. Porter calling for a renewed commitment to the local area.  He suggests companies seek out partners and work to solve challenges.  The examples he offers are geared to education and churning out qualified employees. As economic developers, we should ask how we can help facilitate this process. What resources can an economic developer bring to assist?
Dr. Porter also points out how innovative companies are diligently working to strengthen suppliers and the supplier network.  Again, economic developers should ask how we can help our existing industries do this faster and more efficiently.  As with the previous example, what resources can an economic developer identify to assist?
In my experience working with my existing industry customers, my best way to help is identification and understanding of key resources.  In addition, it is important for me to know exactly who I can connect my existing industry customers with so they do not spend unnecessary time trying to determine the right person. The purpose is to maximize their time. Consequently I spend considerable time networking and probing.  And it is time well spent.
As you read the rest of the article you will find Dr. Porter’s thoughts on entrepreneurship and community. All are noble. However, my purpose was to focus on helping existing industries. 

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