Marty Vanags is one of my favorite people in the world of economic development. I guess I’m not alone as Marty has recently been hired for an exciting new position at the Indy Partnership in Indianapolis. But, for the past few years, Marty was CEO of the Bloomington-Normal (IL) Economic Development Council. In his parting note to his colleagues in Illinois, Marty wrote what I think is an excellent, straight-talking, and common sense explanation of what economic development means today. His remarks are understandably focused on Bloomington-Normal, but they are relevant to many communities across the US.
There are a lot of gems in here, like his call for “business listening” as opposed to “business retention.” A short quote captures the overall flavor: “The best economic development strategy starts at home. Demonstrating to the world that a local start-up culture is vibrant. . . and that local businessses have a tremendous opportunity to grow is your attraction strategy. What company outside of our community looking in wouldn’t want to be a part of a community like that?” That’s basic common sense that too many local officials fail to understand.
This short note is definitely worth a read. Best of luck to Marty in his new adventures!!!