Demystifying Economic Development

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Demystifying Economic Development

Demystifying Economic DevelopmentThe competition between communities to obtain a new, relocated or expanded business is fierce. Companies look to evaluate everything from schools to roads and taxes when deciding if and where to relocate or expand their business. The economic impact of these decisions can be significant to a local economy.

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to meet with a group of site selectors – consultants who guide and influence corporate decision makers about possible re-locations.

I highlighted for them the success of Miami-Dade’s diversified economy and its growing entrepreneurial innovation ecosystem, the burgeoning creative design and arts scene fed by Art Basel, and the significance of having one of the largest healthcare districts. I touted the other advantages of living and doing business in Miami including:

● Ranking of #1 healthiest lifestyle in Florida by livability.com
● Ranking of #1 happiest place to work in the U.S.by Forbes
● One of the most favorable tax rates in the country
● Strong talent pool – 250,000+ students enrolled in area colleges and universities

Then it was my turn to learn about their profession.

I deepened my understanding of how site selection is a highly-sophisticated discipline that includes the evaluation of multiple economic and geographic factors for companies considering a location change. Site selectors are hired to provide a detailed analysis and recommendations regarding first whether a company should expand or relocate and then where that location should be.

Site selectors are hard-core tacticians. They employ formidable statistical and analytical skills to comb through data. They compare communities by slicing and dicing information such as: availability of skilled labor; geographic accessibility; quality of life; occupancy costs; commercial building availability; labor costs; corporate tax rates; proximity to major markets; incentives; and energy availability and costs.

This process of identifying location or expansion opportunities for business decision makers is the business of economic development.

These decisions bring with them hundreds, if not thousands, of direct and indirect jobs (jobs that occur through suppliers or services) giving a multitude of families the resources to prosper.

Take for example the NBCUniversal Telemundo headquarters being built in West Miami-Dade. The company is investing an estimated $250 million and adding 150 new jobs, with an average salary of $89,000. That investment will also generate millions of dollars in property taxes for Miami-Dade. Similarly, Boeing’s Flight Training Centers consolidated its North American simulator operations in Miami in 2013, and now trains 10,000-12,000 airline personnel annually generating $22 million in spending in our community.

To win at this critical game, a community must have top grade economic development professionals who understand how to position our community at the top. Economic Development, handled locally by the Miami-Dade Beacon Council along with its public and private sector partners throughout the county, includes programs, policies, or activities that seek to improve the economic well-being and quality of life for a community, by creating and/or retaining jobs that facilitate growth.

The council tackles this mission by – 1) marketing Miami-Dade County as a world class business location to recruit new businesses; 2) growing local companies including scalable entrepreneurs and small businesses; and 3) shaping our future with policies that enable economic growth.

The business of growing jobs and investment is indeed competitive, detail-oriented, and constantly evolving. It’s great to be part of a community like Miami that has key business assets, which are attractive to a worldwide audience, and leaders who are committed to a community-wide economic development strategy aimed at attracting and retaining high paying jobs and new investments.

Jaret L. Davis is the Chair of the Miami-Dade Beacon Council, Miami-Dade’s Official Economic Development Partnership, and Co-Managing Shareholder of Greenberg Traurig, Miami Office.


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