Day 28: How do I handle politics part 2: On day 27 I discussed how to work with elected politicians. But as we all know there are non-elected “politics” that we have to deal with. It is the most frustrating part of this job, I feel. In my mind there are no losers in economic development. When a good thing happens in a community everyone wins. But I have observed over and over that jealousy seems to seep in all too often. If I do nothing else but get you the reader, to understand the one important undeniable fact that everyone wins in economic development than this writing was entirely worth it. You must always stay above the petty jealousness and politics. It is very hard. Trust me, I know. My mantra is always, “we are on the same team, why does this have to be so hard?” I can show you communities that view themselves as one big team and are doing very well. I can show you communities where everyone is fighting and taking credit and they are also wondering why their metrics don’t look better. The easiest way to bring everyone on board is to ask each group to come to the table with what they are best at and exert their energy towards that effort. For example, here is how a successful project could work: An existing business has told you they want to expand in the community. They will need capital and people. As we all know there are a lot of moving parts with a project like this. There has to be a conductor for this work seamlessly. So, before this project comes to you, it is important to have an understanding that the economic development organization will take the lead on an expansion or attraction project. This may involve getting the Chamber, City, County or other folks that dabble in economic development to agree to this. It shouldn’t be that hard since the other groups have to worry about other things, like events, streets, law enforcement, etc. So a memorandum of understanding should be written and signed by all the entities.
Back to the project. You know they will need to acquire land. You will bring in the city to make sure zoning and other issues are addressed. They also need to attract some senior management. You bring in the Chamber to get the executive visits set up with the company. You then must keep both organization in the loop at all times and pull them in as needed. I have simplified the process, but as with everything, communication is key. When the company breaks ground, you make sure the Chamber, City, County, etc are there to take the credit. Each successful project builds trust. With trust comes better team work. The other word of advice, is to try to have regular meetings with your allies in the community. These can be one on one or as a group. Again, communication is the key. Next: I’m having trouble with a board member/investor.Next Previous