When the goal of a local area is to foster economic development, the entire body politic becomes one of the locational factors reviewed by prospects. Potential employers and investors are not interested only in the incentives and physical attributes that a location offers, but in how well the locality "works." The following table, Municipal Policies as Growth Attractors, summarizes in outline form suggested approaches to common municipal activities that can support a positive image.

The table was partly inspired by the report, "How Can Struggling Communities Make a Comeback?" (1) by Amanda Weinstein and Mark Partridge, in which the authors argue that underlying fundamental functional characteristics - policies and actions that support residents' preferences and provide opportunities - are key attractors through which communities grow and prosper, even those that have suffered economic setbacks from forces beyond their control. The table is an extension of one the authors used as part of their summary of conclusions.

Municipal Policies as Growth Attractors

The Ideal
Political Authority
Balance Enough control to guide critical policy, while allowing for creative destruction Concentration of power in one individual, office, or branch of government
Openness Appearance of rigidity
Transparency Honesty breeds confidence
Inclusiveness New entrants feel welcome Inner-circle favoritism
Conflict resolution Freedom from gridlock Forcing controversial actions
Community improvement Connect quality of life with economic growth Single-purpose, narrowly focused improvements
Economic Development
Target industry/cluster selection Rationally based Chasing the hot industry of the moment
Characteristics of workforce Understand potential role of training, retaining youth, etc. Compartmentalizing K-12 from other educational/training needs and resources
Opportunity Entrepreneurial component of industry targeting Thinking that opportunity lies mainly with outsiders
Compatibility Interrelate social, economic, environmental impacts Radical shifts in economic base without buy-in of citizenry
Natural resources Review for potential to be reinterpreted Conceding business as usual
Residents (current/future) Anticipate changes from migration, aging, etc. Interpretation of current status only
Capabilities, desires Create opportunities for education, entrepreneurship
Nearest larger places Complementarity versus competition Conceding role in relationship that is less than locality’s potential
Regional economic base, opportunities; competitiveness Regional strategic opportunities for win-win collaboration Conceding role in relationship that is less than locality’s potential
Entrepreneurial and general business support, encouragement Communicate potential for linkages throughout local economy Focus on outsiders
Tax, regulatory policies Balance competing interests of costs to do business with public services that enhance quality of life Perception of favoritism thru incentives
Variety of opportunities Accommodate every segment needed for community to work Assumption that everything must look “nice”
Lifestyle choices Maximize choice Ignoring or thwarting preferences of workforces tied to target industries
Price range of housing Use preservation creatively Allowing community to be “low-price leader” in region
Price/cost-of-use range, commercial/industrial Recognize cost realities for uses needed locally Sameness in name of looking nice
Image/Brand Make a virtue of variety Inauthenticity
Infrastructure; land use
Control Own/manage critical, growth-related utilities Unresponsive monopolies
Serviceability Capacities match target industries
Expandability Balance present and future needs/costs
Debt load; cost burden equity Tie CIP to growth, budget. Under what conditions does it make sense for growth to pay its own way? Funding that imposes future burdens that may be unexpected by clientele
Amenities as infrastructure and coordinated with Land Use plans How can the value of a street improvement, drainage basin, etc. be maximized? Single-purpose amenities or improvements that could otherwise do double duty
Land use, etc. synchronized beyond the usual elements Other development/preservation, etc. criteria. Do borders need special attention? Lack of integration of land use planning and economic development
Locations and uses mutually supportive Incorporate highest and best use principles Overly restrictive land use allocations that stifle competition