Tuesday, August 14, 2007

New West Virginia Economic Development Report

A recently published report, "Culture, Creativity and Innovation: West Virginia in the New Economy," says WV policymakers should take the initiative by following these 10 suggestions:

1. Set priorities for spending based on what's critical for success for the state's long-term success (e.g., investing in universal preschool, paid family leave, university research and development and technology transfer programs, incumbent worker training and K-12 education reform). Other examples include: smaller class sizes, charter schools, "schools within schools," outreach to parents to become more involved, higher pay for gifted teachers and financial incentives for principals and teachers to work in worst schools.

2. Consider investments in education, public health and child development as part of an overall development strategy -- to be sustained in both good and bad times. The new imperative is lifelong learning.

3. Use business incentives judiciously and only in concert with improved transparency and performance checks, such as First Source hiring agreements.

4. Focus more attention on the homegrown economy, especially technical and financial assistance to new, young or small firms rather than on business attraction.

5. Make entrepreneurial education and financial literacy classes a requirement in all middle and high schools.

6. Improve and expand outreach to existing firms to marshal more proactive services to prevent closings, such as those caused by lack of business succession planning.

7. Invest in social capital -- community leadership skills and nonprofit management talent and administrative systems and improved community and economic development planning.

8. Use limited government services to direct and leverage private and nonprofit providers of existing business services.

9. Give frontline government staff more power to make decisions and to respond flexibly when delivering services rather than cutting staff myopically, paying them less and working them harder and harder.

10. Create realistic and measurable goals that reflect your development vision and values and rely upon objective economic analyses.

In sum, good government is good economic development. The revolution that has transformed private industry by establishing high-performance workplaces as the way to win in the global marketplace calls for competing on quality, not lowered wages. (The cheapest site for doing business, after all, is not necessarily the most profitable.)

Solid advice, from my standpoint!

Download the full report here.

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