In yesterday’s Editor’s Corner, I posed the idea that the city should have an economic development planning process, not unlike the Vision 2025 the city developed a few years ago as a statement of what Madera should be like in the year 2025 — just 13 years from now.
That plan is working well, for two reasons.
The first is that the City Council and its administrators are committed to keeping it as a living document. For example, any proposed action of the council must say whether that action falls within the guidelines of Vision 2025.
The second is that the plan is rational; it doesn’t call on the city or its citizens to take on work that isn’t doable, or that doesn’t have the support of the citizens, who were involved in the creation of Vision 2025, and who help to keep Vision 2025 alive through oversight.
An economic development vision should have both those characteristics, but it will be more complicated, and will involve more jurisdictions. Economic development doesn’t start or stop at city limits. It must involve the entire county.
The Madera County Economic Development Commission, for instance, serves both city and county interests. For example, when out-of-town businesses make inquiries about whether Madera would be a good place to move, executive director Bobby Kahn and his staff answer those inquiries, and continue to work with those prospects. They also seek out prospects who may not know the advantages of possibly locating in Madera County. New businesses have come into the county because of those efforts.
An economic development visioning plan would build on the commission’s work, but also would ask the question: What sort of economic development could we rationally expect to have here, and what do we need to do to achieve it?
The answer to that question could come from getting answers to a few more, such as:
What are we good at? What enterprises already are working? Where is private capital putting its resources? What, if any, public capital is available? What resources has nature given to us that we aren’t already using or that could be better used?
(Tomorrow: We will explore some of these questions.)