This is not a newsletterMillier Dickinson Blais
A digital toolkit for Ec Dev 2.0 | Number 20 | Circ 5,557

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New models for performance measurement in economic development

As the days get shorter, the nights get colder, and the holidays approach, it can only mean one thing for municipal economic developers...budget season is right around the corner. With that comes annual planning and reporting to boards and community councils about progress, impact, and service improvements. However, the varied nature of economic development services from community to community makes it difficult to establish a continuous improvement and performance management system (CIPMS) that would apply to every organization in every community. Communities instead construct their own systems, many based on popular measurement and management programs from other industries, like the Balanced Scorecard:


In this patchwork of methods, several interesting approaches can be highlighted. Organizations like the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) focus on quantifying the impacts of their investments, such as rural broadband expansion, on regional economic development through the Local Economic Assessment Package (LEAP) tool. The results allow ARC to determine where their grants should be focused. King County in Washington State uses key social, economic, and environmental indicators to assess the current situation in King County, while measures provide a quantifiable assessment of the progress made towards broader County goals. The AIMs High: Annual Indicators and Measures annual reports are produced in an interactive format on the County website, offering public accountability for service delivery, which has been recognized by the Association of Government Accountants as an outstanding example of public performance reporting. The system implemented this year by the Newfoundland Labrador Regional Economic Development Association (NLREDA) for its Regional Economic Development Boards (REDBs), offers an example of where a measurement program can evolve. Government funding is focused on performance of the REDB and the ability of the REDB to continually improve from year-to-year demonstrated through the new system. Regardless of structure, measures, and indicators, the chosen measurement and management method should focus on strong leadership to guide implementation and internal and external communications to generate buy-in and participation at the outset of the program; all factors contributing to the success of the systems above.

Are you a young economic development professional?


Millier Dickinson Blais is partnering with the Economic Developer’s Council of Ontario (EDCO) in the creation of a Young Professionals Network, an exciting new venture targeted at economic development practitioners in Ontario under the age of 30 or with less than five years of professional experience. Recognizing that young professionals are often faced with difficulty entering the field and engaging with other practitioners, this network aims to provide a forum for interaction and collaboration, information sharing, and the pursuit of professional development opportunities. As the Young Professionals Network continues to grow in the new year, it will be an important avenue for building capacity in the economic development profession.

To build a foundation for this new initiative, EDCO is sponsoring a launch event for the Young Professionals Network, to be held between 3:00 and 5:00 pm on February 1, 2011 at the Ontario Investment and Trade Centre in Toronto. This event will coincide with the opening of the annual EDCO conference. Leading experts from the economic development profession in Ontario will be on hand to share and discuss their experience and insight into the field. This event will be a unique opportunity to explore a career in economic development and interact with the current and future leaders of the profession.

If you're under 30 or have less than five years of professional experience we invite you to join us on February 1st. For more information or to register for the free launch event, please click here. Any inquiries can be directed to Jordan Katz, Nirvana Micoo, or Lauren Millier from the Millier Dickinson Blais team.

What do votes for Barack Obama and unemployment rates have in common when it comes to the US economy?


Patchwork Nation has built a free interactive mapping system that allows users to analyze the United States economy in a number of ways, including through recent election results. Using demographic data, Patchwork Nation has identified 12 voter community types ranging from 'Boom Towns' and 'Emptying Nests' to 'Mormon Outposts' and 'Minority Central'. A profile of each community type is included along with actual examples of places fitting each profile. The tool allows users to map primary data such as the unemployment rates, Chrysler closures and Votes for Barack Obama, and overlay this data to compare it to other factors such as gas prices. A third tool allows users to view the latest data trends on the interactive map, such as culture, education, elections and dealerships in danger. The tool will compose both data sets into a single visualization map and provides a fascinating new look at the United States economy and some of its inter-related issues. 

For economic development officers this tool is helpful in understanding the relationship between economic and social influences that would not typically be found in a demographic analysis, such as households earning over $200k annually compared to foreclosure rates. To give this tool a try click here.

New tech hotspots take centre stage


The constant evolution of the technology sector, where the next billion dollar company could be one innovation away, means that it is a continuous target for regional economic development schemes. Yet while regions across the world launch ambitious plans to become the next Silicon Valley, a number of small and mid-sized cities and regions in the United States, including Austin Texas, Hunstville, Alabama, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, have begun to emerge as high-tech hotbeds in their own right. Most of these locations share a core set of characteristics that create conditions for high-tech companies to launch and grow: an attractive government investment environment, a major educational institution to provide both research and skilled labour, a private investment and venture capital market, professional services (such as lawyers, accountants and IT), and a long-term success story or anchor company in the technology field.

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal profiles Eastern New York State as one such region that has successfully cultivated high-technology companies in recent years. Public state funding, together with investment from local private companies, provided seed funding totalling over $7 billion to create a College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) attached to the University of Albany. Coupled with early targeted incentives from the local economic development authority, this investment has made the area a hotbed for advanced research and production in nanotechnology and semiconductors. This example shows that with the right mix of assets and investors there is significant opportunity for technology-led growth in many regions that decide to be ‘early movers’ in areas of new and emerging research.

Toronto builds civic leadership through CivicAction


Recently, the Toronto City Summit Alliance was renamed and refocused as the Greater Toronto Civic Action Alliance, or CivicAction. As the new regional voice of the Greater Toronto Area, CivicAction builds upon the City of Toronto’s successful model of civic advocacy and leadership where city-builders are now region-builders.

The former Toronto City Summit Alliance brought together civic leaders from all sectors of society. Following the first summit, the regional action plan, Enough Talk, was developed, helping to pave the way for regional civic collaboration. Coming out of past city summits are also a number initiatives focused on building leadership in the region, including DiverseCity: The Greater Toronto Leadership Project and the Emerging Leaders Network (ELN).

The reach of the new body, CivicAction, will engage leaders from the Greater Toronto Area to collaborate and promote a regional approach to civic innovation and entrepreneurship. Working to address diverse critical regional challenges, CivicAction includes everything from the environment to economic development to priority neighbourhoods. In preparation for the Greater Toronto Summit 2011, a number of roundtables were held discussing themes such as Game Changing: Reinventing our Economic Base; Creativity 3.0: Cultural Policy, Marketing and Accessibility; and Labour Market/Force Readiness.

CivicAction is an example of how action alliances and networks can build civic leadership in cities and communities of all sizes. The only requirement is passion for where you live and a commitment to positive change.

The Bottom Line

Current funding opportunities

IBM Smarter Cities Challenge: IBM is providing grants to 100 cities around the world to help them become smarter by "enhancing their capacity to collect, analyze and act upon information across multiple systems". The first cycle closes on December 31, 2010.

The Prosperity Initiative makes up to $210 million available from 2010 to 2014 for projects that will enhance business productivity in southern Ontario, diversify the region's economy and build on its strengths. To find out more about the application process and eligibility requirements click here.

Economic Development Initiative: Up to $4 million is available for projects supporting business and economic development activities that encourage sustainable growth in Southern Ontario's Francophone communities with a particular focus on community strategic planning and on business and economic development. The application process is ongoing. To find out more click here.

Youth STEM: This initiative will provide up to $20 million to not-for-profit organizations to expand, enhance and coordinate educational outreach programs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics for children and youth in southern Ontario from kindergarten to grade 12. The deadline is ongoing. More details on the initiative are available here.

Scientists and Engineers in Business: An initiative to help improve the success rate of start-up businesses in southern Ontario by building the business skills of young entrepreneurs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. For more details on the deadline, click here.

Graduate Enterprise Internship: Provides financial support to eligible not-for-profit organizations and post-secondary institutions in southern Ontario to arrange internships for graduate students and recent graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The application process is ongoing (click here for more details).

Technology Development Program: Provides financial support to encourage collaboration between research and innovation organizations, the private sector, post-secondary institutions and not-for-profit groups to accelerate the development of large-scale, advanced technologies that will result in new market opportunities for businesses in southern Ontario. The application process is ongoing (click here for more details).

The Ec Dev 2.0 Digital Tools

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