Day 16: Leadership: On Day 4 we talked about who should be on your board. In my almost 30 years as an economic development professional I have to say what makes a community successful comes down to just one thing, leadership. There is story after story where you hear about a community that 100 years ago was the largest town in the county and now, today, it is still the same size while other towns in the county have magnified in size. I think most people just think a town grows on its own. It doesn’t. It grows because there are a few people that have a vision and the strength to do what is right. In recent history we hear of the vocal minority killing deals while the silent majority sat on their hands and the leaders didn’t do what was right. One of the most effective things an economic development organization can do is to make sure strong leaders are running for public office. The problem is several ED groups take money from local government and then can’t speak up for fear they will lose their money. We don’t encourage our clients to depend on local government money. It needs to be public and private funding with a sight tilt towards private funding. If your community or region does not have a local leadership institute than stop what you are doing and form one! These leadership classes are very important. I can’t stress enough what an impact strong leadership has in making a community successful. If you need a definition of a good leader, just look around for a successful community. Subscribe to their newspaper (online) and read it for a couple of months and the leaders will become evident. Next: What marketing materials do I need?