Higher Eds use Economic Impact Studies for what?!

University-Economic-Impact-StudyThe answer is Higher Eds use economic and social impact studies for a lot of different reasons. Underlying is the desire to showcase their good work and demonstrate the value their work creates. And they want to communicate that value in terms that will resonate with internal and external audiences.  Audiences may include: public officials, policy makers, community residents, investors, and Higher Ed faculty, staff, students and alumni. Economic and social impact studies help Higher Eds compete for state funding, maintain their tax-exempt status, help defend against criticism and help increase fund-raising. Continue reading “Higher Eds use Economic Impact Studies for what?!”

Who’s on the Front Lines of your Economic Development?

130828-Front-LinesI’ve always been a huge believer that customer service is one of the most valuable pieces of brand development. Companies who have superior customer service are recognized as a stronger brand and tend to have better sales numbers than those without. Associations who put customer service first tend to have a greater number of members than those who do not. The fact of the matter is that sales are directly proportional to customer service. The same can be said for economic development.

So, how are you manning the front lines of your economic development efforts? 
Continue reading “Who’s on the Front Lines of your Economic Development?”

5 Tips for Economic Development Websites


We spend a lot of time visiting community websites as part of our strategy and community assessment work. Here are a few helpful hints (offered in order of priority) we find incredibly useful.

  1. Contact information – Above all else, on the “contact us” or similar page, include the names of each staff person, their title, direct email and phone number. Contact information forms or “info@” emails don’t cut it. It costs time and delays the process.
  2. Maps – On the home page, clearly identify the name of your community, the state in which it is located and a map (Google maps work great).
  3. Info Links – Avoid repurposing your industry or demographic data in a marketing or promotional format. Find a valid data source (government preferred) and link directly to the relevant data set when possible.
  4. Reports – These are helpful. Comprehensive plans, strategic documents, cluster studies, workforce analyses – the more the merrier – Just make sure they are the most recent reports or indicate which report is the most recent.
  5. Social Media – It’s here to stay. Building online communities are just as important as building physical communities. By creating and promoting your community or organization online, you increase stakeholder and funder interest in what you are doing.

Live by these five points and your website will be liked and useful.

Board Governance: It’s about Leadership…

The following article is a post from our guest blogger, Dr. Urmi Ashar, President & CEO of NACD Three Rivers Chapter.

At a recent NACD Three Rivers program titled, “Brave New World: Transformation of Corporate Governance or an Era of Regulatory Reform?” it was concluded that Corporate boards will need to reassess their own role in governance, in light of the transformational changes that are now taking shape. According to Jim Rohr,

“Corporate governance today demands that management’s and board’s neglect of Shareholders, Customers, Employees and Community would be perilous!”

The biggest game changer in the business world has become reputation! Reputation is a mirror on a company’s soul. New communications technologies and social media have created a major exposure for corporations that still function in the old models of PR driven market capture strategy. This fundamental game changer has shifted the power of broadcasting a message to the masses. Added to that are the challenges of society at large that affect the mood of the masses:

  • Information overload with unreliable filters
  • Scarce resources
  • Changing posture, size and diminishing trust in government
  • Increasing complexity of Government oversight
  • Globalization: U.S. has pursued a path of regulatory isolation while the EU and other markets have adopted globally recognized standards
  • Inter connectedness of the world at large makes it impossible to contain risk neatly

Managing reputation with stakeholders has become the number one priority of the business world today. Communicating authenticity and being prepared to be open and transparent when one fails is going to be the only formula for success moving forward.

What do the stakeholders care about today? I think the buzz here is: “Leadership in letting go of the sacred cows”. Fiduciary duties, used to be the cornerstone responsibility of the boards: Duty of care, duty or loyalty and duty of obedience. But today the model of effective Corporate Governance looks as follows (see image on right).

While, leadership and management must go hand in hand, they are not the same thing. The manager administers, focuses on execution of systems and relies on control but a leader innovates, focuses on people and inspires trust.

Board leadership will need to build a reputation that will make itself attractive to creative and conceptual thinkers capable of integrative thinking. Integrative thinkers embrace complexity, tolerate uncertainty, and manage tension in searching for creative solutions to problems. Attracting and retaining the right people on your team is the only secret to success and survival in a rapidly changing complex world.

Thus the focus of board leaders will need to be on communicating the right values transparently to earn a reputation of authenticity in the market place! They need to focus on ensuring they have processes and metrics to measure the right culture that fosters the values they want to project in the market place. This will attract and retain creative talent capable of shaping the future. They will need to be proactive in co-operatively working with economic developers to attract the right talent to the region.

If companies care about attracting the right talent and help a region thrive then they must lead the charge for local economic development in the region in partnership with economic developers. It is the highest form of community service and philanthropy. The road map for the economic developers to achieve this will be to thoroughly scan the environment of the region and ensure there are adequate avenues available in the fabric of the region comprised of the start-up ventures, non-profits and public-private partnerships to encourage the emergence of such talent and the maturation of their leadership. In short the leadership of economic development in this regard cannot be underestimated. The corporate and economic development leadership will need to partner in zealously creating regional systems that are attractive to creative and conceptual thinkers capable of integrative thinking. Integrative thinkers embrace complexity, tolerate uncertainty, and manage tension in searching for creative solutions to problems. They are not simply efficient drones diligent in execution.

The current leadership on corporate and non-profit boards along with the economic development leadership will need to interpret the market demands of today and must create a willingness in their own constituencies to move beyond resisting and “dealing with” change. This is now not simply an ideal on the wish list but a first order need for survival in order to tap the opportunity inherent in connecting with the key constituents in the marketplace.

The most successful organizations and regions will have to focus on attracting and enabling those that are able to invent the future, and are not only able to leverage the strengths and but are also able to effectively manage the weaknesses to realize success. The mindset has to be that of constant awareness and ability to embrace ambiguity and to learn, unlearn and relearn on the fly. The emphasis has to be in creating conditions conducive for survival of intrinsically motivated people whose drivers are: autonomy, mastery, and a sense of purpose.

In order to manage reputation effectively leadership will also have to focus on ability to innovate. Intangible assets will provide private sector in gaining the competitive edge in the fourth economy, which is firmly rooted in technology, supported by innovation and knowledge networks. In order to become sustainable businesses will focus on their own value propositions such that they can adapt to the world’s changing needs and the dynamic seismic shifts in the market place.

Real leadership is less about handwringing and lamenting about an era gone by but more about confronting the realities and constraints of shrinking resources and unleashing the potential of the people it attracts to create an economically vibrant tapestry. This brand of leadership has to emerge simultaneously in the private as well as public sector Today board leadership stretches beyond fiduciary responsibilities to effective management of reputation. It is that fourth duty: The Duty of Imagination, which will attract and empower those that are capable of shaping the future.

About the Guest Blogger: Dr. Urmi Ashar

Dr. Urmi Ashar is the President & CEO of NACD Three Rivers Chapter. She manages Market Cognition, a consulting firm that draws on her multidisciplinary expertise and multicultural sensitivities to help businesses gain competitive advantage. In her organizational work, she uses insights derived from the study of medicine, science, education and business as well as from the experience of bridging two cultures – American and Indian – to build complex, non-conventional solutions to organizational challenges. She currently serves on the board of Excela Health System and serves as the Vice Chair for Nominating and Governance Committee and is on the Strategic Planning Committee for Excela Health.