This is my second of five columns on the topic of the ED ecosystem. My first column focused on local EDOs and subsequent columns will focus on the role of state EDOs and utility ED.
Regionalism is here to stay. Why? Because regional EDOs add value to the economic development ecosystem.
Regional EDOs provide a number of key benefits to site selectors and the companies and people who are looking to relocate or expand. First, they provide a geographical jurisdiction that is more representative of labor sheds than a city, county, or state jurisdictional boundary. People don’t pay attention to jurisdictional boundaries nearly as much as economic developers and planners do! For this reason, talent initiatives and target industry analyses are a natural fit for regional EDOs.
Second, regional EDOs provide a very convenient point of contact for site selectors. As we zero in on a region, we are not sure yet which sites and buildings will be the best fit, and instead of sending an RFP to dozens of local EDOs, we can rely on regional EDOs to play that intermediary role for us during the early stages of a site location project.
Lastly, regional EDOs are also in a good vantage point to provide both tools (sites and buildings databases, business retention, and expansion software, etc.) and capacity building to the local EDOs within their region. I would argue that the collective capacity of the local EDOs within a region is one of the biggest competitive differentiators a region could have, and therefore, a worthy goal of each regional EDO.