Chamber Backs Economic Development Group

Jan 29, 2019 | Uncategorized

Economic development is a process of deliberate intervention in the dynamics of the local economy by making business investment easier and more attractive. This process of influencing private sector investment is the engine for community economic growth.

For most communities, primary companies are the prize that drives the economy. Primary companies are those that sell at least half of their products or services outside the local market. These companies generally pay better than others so their payrolls inject significant disposable income into the local economy.

Collectively, primary companies make up what is called the traded sector of the economy. For a short 4-minute overview, you might want to watch this video titled “What is the Traded Sector and Its Importance.”

This is grossly simplistic, but economic development has three main components: business retention and expansion, business start-ups, and business attraction. A closely associated element is business climate, which is the extent to which the political and policy environments of a locale are seen as burdensome or supportive of businesses.

So, who ‘owns’ economic development in Northern Colorado? The good news and the bad news is everybody and nobody.

The good news is a lot of groups, public and private, are focused on the three main components of economic development and business climate. In November, I started to map all of this out as you can see here.

The bad news is that nobody owns key functions like coordinating the development of a regional economic vision and plan, the development and implementation of a branding and marketing plan, and a coordinated prospect development plan and prospect management.

In large part, this is a role that One NOCO, formerly the Northern Colorado Economic Alliance, has tried to fill.

The group has been around since 2014. The founders and board members are businesspeople in the two-county region. The lack of regional branding and coordinated marketing and strategic prospect development is what motivated them to form the group.

One NOCO is going through a leadership transition and refocusing its work. As reported in the newspaper, the area chambers of commerce have moved in behind One NOCO to support their work. The Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce Board passed a resolution of support at its December retreat detailing how the Chamber can support the group. Read that resolution here.

Additionally, I have joined the One NOCO board along with my colleagues from the Loveland and Greeley chambers of commerce.

The short version of all of this is that economic development is important, and should not be left to the public sector alone. Business has a strong stake in economic development so it is worth the effort to help One NOCO through a period of transition.