Economic Development has had an exciting few years. The announcement of the Amazon HQ2 RFP enticed hundreds of communities across North America to submit their version of Amazon HQ2. Foxconn produced one of the largest economic development incentives valued at over $3 Billion. Some might look at these and describe them as outliers. However, one need only examine the trends within the private sector to see something more meaningful than just an outlier.

While working with a client, we had the opportunity to speak with a local manufacturer. The CEO noted the company’s workforce has seen a pretty varied peak and valley in the last decade. At its peak, the manufacturer employed 150 employees. At its lowest, the number dipped below 100 during the recession. Since then, the total count has rebounded to 125. However, as we toured the facility, there was a noticeable addition to the company’s approach to workforce: automation. With less employees and only a half a dozen robots, the employer achieved three and half times greater productivity. Automation continues to be a disruptive force across nearly all industries. As talent shortages continue to loom in many states, employers are turning to alternative talent solutions like automation.

Alternative talent solutions aren’t just seen in the form of automation. The gig economy continues to grow and reshape our traditional definition of a “job.” Moreover, it has challenged how economic developers traditionally measure jobs and job growth in their communities. All of this is to say disruption is here to stay and is absolutely impacting economic development in meaningful ways.

Although we cannot prevent disruption from happening, EDOs can be prepared for what’s next. Readiness has been, and continues to be, the best way to prepare for the next opportunity or project. However, as disruption continues and as economic development evolves, it is not enough. Increasingly, capacity building is becoming the new readiness. As industries begin their evolution from market disruption, there will be underlying assumptions that your EDO is already making strides in readiness, alignment, regionalism, and differentiation. Now, it assumes your organization will have the capacity to meet the new economic development and the transformed industries.

Are you ready for transformed economic development? Take our Capacity Readiness Survey to see where your organization stands and where it ranks against others. Ady Advantage can help you fill in the gaps. Give us a call at 608.663.9218 or visit us online and see how we can help.