Magnetic Community strategies are divided into five categories: business, tourism, resident, retiree, and government. Each category is further subdivided into revenue attraction strategies and revenue retention strategies.
The Magnetic Community model promotes strategies that complement each other. For example, if a community can use more overnight accommodations to help extend tourist stays, why not encourage local entrepreneurs or retirees to start a bed and breakfast. The community will have a new locally owned business, a stronger tourism program, and an enhanced tax base. Taking this one step further, if the community can recruit a retiree from outside the community to relocate and start a bed and breakfast, the community will also benefit from the relocating retiree’s outside investments, ongoing Social Security checks, and other sources of retirement income.
Economic development efforts are part of almost every community’s strategy for creating prosperity. Communities endeavor to create new jobs, attract new investments, and improve the area’s overall quality of life by implementing a variety of strategies. Critical to the understanding of how local development efforts impact a community’s prosperity is to understand how individual projects and overall development strategies impact the flow of money as it enters, circulates within, and exits a community. This basic concept is seldom considered when developing strategic plans or when evaluating projects. By keeping money flow considerations in mind, community leaders and economic developers can insure that development efforts actually end up paying dividends.
Many of today’s economic development strategies and programs are based on business recruitment practices that have not changed in the past 50 years. As a result, money and resources are wasted on efforts that do little to create prosperity. In addition, these strategies and programs are almost entirely focused on attracting outside revenue with little regard for retaining revenue once it enters and is circulating in the local economy. From a Magnetic Community perspective, economic development efforts seek to advance local prosperity by both attracting and retaining outside revenue. The overall goal is to create a positive flow of money into the local economy.
In the past, business location decisions were driven by proximity to markets, access to transportation, affordable labor, etc. Today, many business owners, entrepreneurs and employees are more interested in quality of life, education, housing and sense of community. Amenities such as open space, multiuse trails and recreation are at the top of the priority list. In many cases, jobs follow people, in that young people select a place they want to live , move, find a job and then look for work, start a business or work remotely. Many entrepreneurs look for an ideal community before starting a business, especially those individuals who are able to live and work anywhere there is a connection to the internet. More and more, working age individuals rate community higher than a job.
A strong community development effort that produces great schools for children, cultural and recreational opportunities, a clean safe environment, a variety of shopping and eating opportunities, social services and excellent medical care, appeals to current residents and helps attract new residents. Many bedroom communities within commuting distance of good jobs have prospered by creating environments conducive to the needs of current and potential residents. At the same time, many communities with good paying jobs have been denied the prosperity they seek simply because they do not have the infrastructure and quality of life factors necessary to attract and retain residents. As a result, many traditional employment centers and established residential areas have suffered from an outflow of residents and money to communities with a better quality of life and up-to-date assets.
Insuring that quality of life and ongoing community development factors meet and exceed expectations is a Magnetic Community strategy that applies universally to businesses, residents, tourists, and retirees. A great community makes it easier to recruit and retain quality businesses, skilled workers, professionals, entrepreneurs, retirees, young people, home-based businesses, telecommuters, creative workers, computer programmers, engineering consultants, regional sales reps, etc.
Not all Magnetic Community strategies are going to work for every community. That is why communities must have a strategic economic development plan that outlines their vision for the future. The plan helps community leaders and economic developers prioritize how to best invest their limited time and financial resources. Knowing how much outside revenue is attracted by manufacturing, tourism, retirees, etc., allows economic developers to determine how much emphasis to place on each industry segment. For example, even though the military, tourism and retirees are the top three outside income generators where I live in eastern North Carolina, agriculture, forestry and fishing continue to be substantial contributors to the local economy and cannot be ignored.
A community’s strategic economic development plan provides a comprehensive overview of the local economy, sets priorities for economic growth, and identifies strategies, programs, and projects to improve the local economy. The plan identifies local workforce skills that support both existing and target industries. By coordinating training programs with economic development goals, communities insure that local workers are qualified to fill both existing and future jobs.