I believe it was either Ed Barlow or Jeffrey Gitomer that said our tourism folks are, or should be, our leaders in economic development because they are the initial contacts for visitors to our region.
Our cab and limo drivers should know some of our business statistics and quality of life indicators so they can be ambassadors for our economic development.
We should all support Mike Kazmierski and the folks at the Economic Development Corp. Not just them, but their efforts. How many of you have colleagues in other cities and could educate them about our region and business climate, and maybe even influence them to move to our city or at least take a look?
It would seem to me that with the state of business affairs in the Los Angeles area, this could be good hunting ground to target businesses to move to our area.
We all have our spheres of influence. Maybe I should call my old friend Matt Toledo, the publisher of the Los Angeles Business Journal, and get a list of businesses or industry segments and pass that information along to Kazmierski.
What about the manufacturing sector? Which one of you manufacturers out there know another manufacturer in say, Alabama, that needs more room and would be willing to call them and set a meeting with the EDC folks?
Who are the top 10 sales people for CS?
This brings me to another point. We should have a hit team of the top 10 sales people for our region that could be ready to be deployed quickly to meet with companies any where in the world.
I believe we have a world class community so let’s just not target U.S. companies, but international companies.
When looking at the great economic growth of cities like Des Moines, Iowa, and Albuquerque, N.M., they have vibrant downtowns. We should all be engaged in the Imagine Downtown process that is going on right now.
Shame on you if you claim to be all about economic development but are not engaged in the Downtown Partnerships initiatives. Call the partnership at 886-0088 and get involved.
An even more vibrant downtown will help our economic development efforts.
Now I am not saying that I have done everything I can to support our economic development efforts, but it is high on my priority list.
We are bringing Xceligent to the market, which will be another weapon in our economic development arsenal. The EDC folks will be able to find a building, say a 100,000-square-foot industrial building with a good access to Interstate 25, that is coming up for lease or is vacant. They can then go into maybe Portland’s Xceligent database and do a search for businesses needing this type of space and then pick up the phone.
We need to mobilize leadership so we are striving for the same results. Whether identifying trade shows that we should be attending or, as Barlow related, being the best in the nation at re-training adults to reflect the aging of the baby boomers and their impact on the work force.
Maybe we should have an initiative that ensures our higher education institutions are offering the very best technical classes and that we are really pushing students to get the best technical training possible to support high-tech companies.
If we have the work force in place locally it will give us the upper-hand when recruiting business.
I also propose an economic development tax. Pueblo has one. (More on this later, I only have so much space.)
Our EDC is funded with roughly 20 percent public money and 80 percent private investment. It would seem to me that this should be closer to 60 percent private and 40 percent public.
I say up the ante of funding from the public sector. The argument is pretty simple. Businesses coming to our area would increase the volume of people and business taxes which would ultimately be returned to the city coffers.
We are all in the economic development business and I challenge you all to engage more and make a difference. Now where is Toledo’s phone number?
Lon Matejczyk is publisher of the Colorado Springs Business Journal. He can be reached at lon.matejczyk@csbj.com or 329-5202.