Business Briefs: Economic Development Summit Recap
What matters most to business owners considering relocating to Cabarrus County?
According to Jonathan Q. Morgan of the UNC School of Government, research indicates that the availability of skilled workers, access to highways, quality of life, and availability of buildings, labor costs, and corporate taxes are among the factors that play a role.
Morgan presented the information as part of an Economic Development Summit held May 3 at the Cabarrus Arena and Events Center. Hosted by Cabarrus Economic Development, the purpose of the summit was to provide the elected leadership and economic development partners with insight and information on the economic development process and the critical role they play.
During the event, Morgan and Christopher Chung, CEO of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, addressed area business and government leaders about the critical role of economic development in the county. Chung kicked off the event by describing the work of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina and providing insights into current economic development trends happening in the state.
The Economic Development Process
Morgan, an associate professor of public administration and government, offered a look into the economic development process and the vital role played by elected officials and economic development partners.
He noted the goals of economic development, including encouraging private investment, creating jobs, expanding the tax base, creating wealth, improving quality of life for citizens, and creating a higher standard of living. He also cited his own research into opinions about the most important roles for local governments in economic development: providing quality services and amenities, creating a positive business climate, providing strategic leadership, and offering incentives to companies.
Key Strategies: Recruiting, ‘Placemaking’
Morgan laid out what he described as the foundations of economic competitiveness — human and financial capital, physical and innovation infrastructure, and social and civic capital. Those foundations play a key role in economic development strategies such as recruiting and attracting new businesses, retaining existing businesses and encouraging their expansion, nurturing human capital and talent development, and “placemaking.”
He described placemaking as a targeted effort to revitalize an area such as a downtown or a distressed neighborhood, creating a high-quality community with infrastructure, amenities and opportunities to attract both businesses and prospective workers.
Placemaking involves creating a strong sense of place that encourages memorable experiences and emotional attachment. A key strategy of placemaking is creating connectivity and well-designed, functional and attractive physical spaces.
Placemaking helps improve overall quality of life by bringing in attractions like arts and crafts, agriculture and local foods, sports, tourism and recreation, and creative industries and culture.
Business Retention and Human Capital
Morgan also discussed the importance of developing human capital — talented, skilled individuals who contribute to an attractive workforce for new businesses and existing businesses looking to expand.
Strategies contributing to human capital include early childhood development and leadership development, along with “placemaking” activities that create a desirable environment that attracts talented workers.
Morgan finished his talk with a key question: Are economic development incentives effective? While incentives can tip the scale in some cases, he said, high-performing economic development programs strive foremost to invest in critical local assets, including infrastructure, amenities and people.