There aren’t a lot of books that discuss the daily life and work of economic developers, so I’m always on the lookout for new ones that offer some insights and useful work tips. If you’re looking for similar sources of new ideas, two new books are worth your time. Maury Forman’s self-published The Wit and Wisdom of an Economic Developer distills Maury’s many years of working to advance economic development in the state of Washington and beyond. It’s a funny—and insightful—series of essays on what works and what doesn’t work in the real world of economic development.
Eric Canada is another long time economic developer, and his firm, Blane Canada, is well known in the field. His new book, Economic Development for the Team, is a similarly useful guide to the reality of economic development. This guide is especially useful in its recognition that teamwork and partnerships are the reality in today’s world. It offers tips not just for the professional economic developer, but also focuses on roles and activities for board members, elected officials and other partners. This guide is especially useful for folks who are brand new to the field and need an introduction to leading practices, procedures, and terminology.
Finally, a colleague recently recommended a newish book that I’ve found quite interesting: What I Found in a Thousand Towns by Dar Williams. Williams is a popular folk singer who spends a lot of time on the road in smaller towns like Phoenixville, PA, Moab, UT, and Gainesville, FL. She’s become something of community revitalization expert along the ways as she’s seen what works in building vibrant towns and communities. The book’s subtitle does a great job of summarizing its content and conclusions: “A Traveling Musician’s Guide to Rebuilding America’s Communities—One Coffee Shop, Dog Run and Open-Mike Night at a Time.” This is an interesting and entertaining read.