How to measure economic development

Local economic development is all about, well, everything!

Economic development professionals must bring businesses, jobs, training and money to help develop the economy. Sounds easy!

Why would a business decide to locate in Augusta? Well, the short answer is that there are many reasons.

The real question is how do you get "potential" businesses that are looking to relocate or expand operations to consider Augusta.

Through marketing of Augusta to site location specialists, businesses, consultants, etc.

As an outsider, here are my thoughts on how well the economic development professionals in Augusta are doing.

First, I have met many of the so-called designated economic development professionals in the area. Second, they are without a doubt working hard. However, I am not built on measuring inputs. That is, I am not going to measure how long they work on a project or how many hours they put into a project. If that project does not get to Augusta or surrounding areas, what good is it to the local economy?

What should be the output of all this time and money? Jobs, retaining businesses, businesses locating to the area, or businesses looking to expand their operations in the area are a few.

Such recent announcements that highlight economic development successes include Automatic Data Processing, T-Mobile, Teleperformance, along with several other businesses.

Some of these announcements have impressed me, considering the competition for such businesses to locate in other areas. Furthermore, the contraction in the national economy will cause firms to reconsider or delay such decisions to expand or relocate.

With that said, an outside economic development entity, the Southern Business and Development magazine recently listed Augusta in one of its Top 10 lists. Specifically, Augusta was listed as one of the top comeback kids. Why the comeback? According to the publisher, marketing made the difference!

In March 2008, Augusta was also named in Forbes' 10th Annual Rankings of the Best Places for Businesses and Careers. This ranking is based on a composite of different areas. Augusta did well in terms of cost of doing business. This will serve Augusta well in terms of attracting new businesses to locate to the area.

Getting the word out about Augusta is one part; creating a pro-business environment is another.

In the end, closing the deal and bringing businesses to the area is what matters.

A team effort is required for Augusta to continue to be successful in attracting these companies to locate here. With limited resources, different agencies must pool together their time and their money to put a package together that works for us, the citizens of Augusta and businesses.

Bass Pro Shops is a perfect example of the team of economic development agencies working together to make it happen.

Look for continued successes, announcements, or output.

MARK A. THOMPSON IS THE CREE-WALKER PROFESSOR OF BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION AT AUGUSTA STATE UNIVERSITY. HE CAN BE REACHED AT MTHOMPSON@AUG.EDU.

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