For those of you who know me, you know that I have a special place in my heart for rural economic development. This past year, I have continued to have the honor of spending time with many leaders in this realm. From the formal presentations and informal discussions, one recurring trend I continue to notice is the interest in training local partners and stakeholders so that they are a competitive advantage, not a liability, in winning projects.


  • The turnover rate of elected officials – either too quickly (one election cycle) or too slowly (not keeping up with recent development in economic development).
  • Wearing lots of hats – this is especially a challenge in rural areas, where individuals involved in economic development often also oversee many other activities.
  • In areas with lower growth, there can be lower project flow, and therefore, less experience in doing projects. This means there is greater pressure to land projects when opportunities arise.
  • By the time a community makes the short-list for a project, issues like alignment are what differentiate the finalists – for better or worse.

As a result, there is a renewed focus on focused training for local-level partners, elected officials, and other stakeholders.  Ady Advantage has developed and delivered customized training programs for dozens of utilities and EDOs in their training efforts.  The big trends we’re seeing on this front are:

  • More interest by rural groups, especially the utilities;
  • A stronger focus on the nuts and bolts of site selection competencies, such as how to best manage site visits, how to improve RFI responses, and what site readiness means; and,
  • The specific engagement of elected officials, who can have powerful positive impacts on economic development if well informed and aligned.

Ady Advantage trains, coaches, and teaches hundreds of economic development professionals every year through our speeches, presentations, books and outreach programs. Part of our outreach includes this blog. If you’re not receiving it directly, you can sign up for it here. And if we can help the stakeholders in your state, regional or local group, give us a call at 608.663.9218 or shoot us an email.