The new year is still young, but businesses are already talking to us about their plans to expand in or relocate to our region. There is a sense of optimism reflected in corporate plans for 2017, and local and state economic development professionals are seeing increased activity. The new year could be one of great opportunity for the communities in our two-county area.
The potential for growth this year reminds us that we must always be ready for opportunities. We need to consistently market our region and remind corporate decision makers, locally and nationally, of our business advantages. We need to be sales people and storytellers for our communities, staying open to possibilities.
This is a great time to ask ourselves about the perceptions others have about our region and our hometowns. What do people assume about our communities, and how does that track with what we know to be true about our communities? By understanding the perceptions that business leaders—and families—have about our area, we can do a better job of crafting a message that tells the actual story.
A time of economic opportunity also underscores the value of good planning. Analysis, consensus and action planning help to prepare a community for the future. Planning helps us to be ready when expanding businesses knock on the door and ask what we can do for them. If we do our homework and carry out our plans, we are prepared when the right company is ready to do business in our communities.
Most of all we must understand that, in many cases, the timing must be right for corporate expansion decisions to impact our region. The saying is that opportunity is just around the corner, but we have to be ready and know that being prepared is important in achieving our economic development goals.
By Nick Fosheim, Executive Director, Lincoln & Minnehaha County Economic Development Associations
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