Getting in the Game

Every state is keen to create or maintain an environment in which businesses can prosper and jobs can be created. Economic activity is the lifeblood of a community and makes possible so many aspects of our lives, from schools to public safety, the arts, recreation, and so on down the line.

Businesses can be supported and economic activity fostered in any number of ways, of course, much of it “organic,” i.e., grown or nurtured through and by means of local resources and synergies.

At the same time, new ideas, new investors and new opportunities can and should come from without. States need to attract employers currently active or that are about to launch elsewhere, by offering them conditions and resources that respond to their growth needs in ways that are not currently being met.

But it’s not just states (or provinces) that are getting in the game. Increasingly, cities and towns of various sizes are chasing companies, entrepreneurs, even start-ups, in their efforts to diversify their economies and create jobs.

Larger cities like Dallas and Houston are major players in the business attraction game. Ditto, Columbus, Ohio. Most large cities or metros have chambers that actively promote the region and pitch the advantages of relocating or starting a business there. The Cleveland area – no stranger to gibes and jokes – is working particularly hard to demonstrate that from an industrial, R & D and business standpoint, it’s got it all.

It’s also worth noting Kitchener, Ontario – the largest city in the Waterloo area, with a population of about 200,000 – is getting into the act in a rather aggressive and creative way. According to news reports, the city is offering real money – say, $40K – to encourage start-ups to locate to its downtown core. It seems to be working.

Cash-strapped municipalities and regions will say they don’t have the money and can’t afford to pay companies to relocate, even if they wanted to do so. And there’s no guaranty that efforts such as these will pay long-term dividends. But the message is clear.

Cities, regions, states, provinces and countries everywhere are competing to attract the businesses and entrepreneurs that will fuel their economies. And many are succeeding.

So whether or not we hit every shot we take, it’s clear we have to get in the game, and we have to find some way to pay to play.

One thing I know – you miss 100% of the shots you never take.