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Consultant says LVEDC should adopt a public advocacy role

By LVEDC Staff on June 24, 2014

LVEDC logo smallEDITOR’S NOTE: Given the analysis of the consulting team from a site-selector perspective, the following recommendation was developed to suggest a way to ensure that the Lehigh Valley is a place where the world’s most innovative companies and talent want to locate and live. The strategy is based on the assumption that the region as a whole must become and remain proactive in shaping its economic future but with a more targeted approach and better defined roles and responsibilities.

The following is taken directly from A Blueprint for Success: An Economic Development Strategy for Sustainable Growth in the Lehigh Valley. The recommendation is that of Garner Economics.

Observation
Marketing the region for business attraction and expansion is important, but having the infrastructure to support and nurture those companies is paramount to any successful economic development strategy. Infrastructure such as air service, consolidated government, an effective incentive policy, broadband development, and tax competitiveness are just a few examples of government-supported services and programs that today’s companies expect of a competitive marketplace.

Recommendation
The LVEDC has recently hired a Director of External Affairs for a multitude of projects, including legislative and policy outreach. Additionally, under the leadership of CEO Don Cunningham, the LVEDC has engaged outside counsel for External public policy advocacy.

The LVEDC’s efforts in business investment (new and existing) and public advocacy for economic development initiatives are strongly interconnected. The LVEDC should continue to use its status as the region’s lead economic development group to advocate for these types of infrastructure and other product improvement with appropriate state and local government entities.

The LVEDC can point to its expertise in what companies are looking for to differentiate the Lehigh Valley as their choice location for business investment as justification and validation of the needs. These efforts will need to be sustained and grown over time.

In doing so, the LVEDC should also look to help local officials recognize the impact of their support and leadership in enhancing the economic vitality of the region. Much of the success in economic development wins is directly attributable to state and local policy from elected officials.

Understanding their role in contributing to success should serve as further motivation for officials to support economic development and drive investment in the region.

Lead organizations: The LVEDC; other not for profits engaged in public policy advocacy

Best practice example: JAXUSA Regional Partnership (Jacksonville, FL). The Chamber’s Public Policy Division coordinates actions to create and protect a healthy business environment by educating elected and government officials about critical issues impacting Northeast Florida, and rallies the business community to take action on specific legislation.

NEXT WEEK: Look for more observations and recommendations from our consultant’s report.

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