If you’ve heard it said once, you’ve heard it said a dozen times or more: The secret to success — or the key to success — in (“XYZ”) is in the planning and preparation.
You can replace the “XYZ” in this morsel of wisdom with all kinds of endeavors. It’s true when exam time comes in elementary school. It’s true in painting a house (if a quality and long-lasting job is the desired result). It’s true in winning sports championships. And it certainly is true in the closely knit arenas of business recruitment and economic development.
The chances of a city, county or regional economic agency landing a new business — and all the jobs and economic impact at its potential — are greatly enhanced not only by internal organizational preparation but by government’s ready ability to meet any need the business might have if and when ownership decides to relocate, expand its locations, or build as a start-up enterprise.
Adequate preparation for streamlined and successful economic development can be, should be, and, actually, must be in several areas:
- Infrastructure — Roads, water supply, sewage discharge, electrical power, and the like.
- Transportation modes — Land (highways and rail), sea, and air, for moving products and people.
- Land and habitat — Zoning, soil borings and sampling, drainage and other forms of water mitigation, conservation, and expertise about local endangered species.
- Resources — Labor (numbers, education, and availability), buildings supplies, warehousing, and distribution nodes.
- Technology — Landline and mobile telecommuncations, fiber-optics, broadband connectivity, Internet, and Wi-Fi, for moving information.
- Quality of life — Housing, medical care, education, shopping, entertainment, and recreation.
Increasingly, the availability or unavailability of broadband connectivity, is becoming a game-changer in business recruitment. Businesses want and need the means to communicate information quickly to and from corporate headquarters, to other company locations, to employees, and, yes, to customers and stakeholders. The key here is an infrastructure that accounts for and adequately provides for a widespread network of high-speed fiber-optic data lines.
While many factors play into a ownership-management decision to locate a business here or there, communities that have fiber-optic lines well in place tend to have another leg up in business recruitment.
Maps available from the Central Florida Development Council, the Polk County economic development agency, show the progress of fiber line development and placement across the Sunshine State — where the concentrations are and where there are areas for improvement.
To the credit of a lot of people here in Polk County, the matter of fiber line development is getting far greater attention. For cost and other efficiencies, and with a look ahead to eventual community needs, city planners are trying to get more fiber lines placed when other infrastructure – a road or highway, for example — is being upgraded. In addition, the Polk Vision planning organization has a Smart Communities Team (formerly the Broadband Team) that is addressing the fiber-optic network throughout the county, along with several other technological issues.
The Boy Scouts of America wasn’t the first to coin the term “Be prepared,” but it did officially adopt those two words to be the Scouts’ official motto. It’s a fitting term – a fitting state of mind — for local government and economic development organizations as well. The better prepared we and our locales are for new businesses, the better our business-recruitment efforts will be.
In the scope of economic development, another phrase is critical, too. We talk a lot about “time and risk.” The less time we have deal with an element that addresses the need of a potential new business, the better chance we have to successfully recruit the business, diversify the business base, put more people to work, and pump more dollars into the local economy.