I have found that I can associate almost everything in economic development to either farming or sports. Recently, I have noted the importance of the classic 3-legged stool in economic development, much like the classic milking stool. It has to be a priority if it uses the classic piece of dairy barn “furniture”.
The 3-legged stool in economic development refers to business retention and expansion, attraction of new business and visitors (for those that do tourism), and entrepreneurship and small business development. Those are your 3 legs. Marketing falls within the attraction of new business. Workforce development falls within all 3 legs or tasks.
My office also focuses on tourism. The new 2018 Grant County Travel Planners are hot off the presses and we are sending those out now to individuals and travel centers around the country.
I have noticed through my years in economic development that some economic development organizations do not focus on or address all 3 legs of the stool. They like to lean on just one leg of the stool. Those entities tend to fall or tip within a year or two. Good economic development is very much a balanced approach. Plus, in this day of results, you are evaluated on your performance as much as on your proven outcomes. You need to focus on all 3 legs. If you don’t, one will fall.
As I stated earlier, workforce development supports all 3 legs. Entrepreneurship will lead to an existing business that will eventually be part of the retention/expansion leg. Drawing more visitors or tourists to our region through marketing, will support existing businesses, drive more small business development, and encourage entrepreneurship.
My office is working to help develop a housing study for Fennimore and several other communities in Grant County. Where does a new house or apartment fit into the 3-legged stool? Well, it fits into all 3. Businesses support the housing construction. It is also a strategy to address the workforce shortage. Adding more housing can mean more workers, who will become available to our businesses. You start to notice that any project connects to all 3 legs numerous times. That is true economic development. But, what if you ignore one of the legs or saw off one or two legs of the stool? Anything less than 3 legs will not last long and it won’t support the farmer or the community it’s there to serve. I always remember this when I look at strategies for my corporation. You need all 3 legs and you must work to support all 3.
by: Ron Brisbois