Friday, July 29, 2011

After The Box Car Nights

I slept in a box car for two nights in Southwest Michigan.  And I liked it.

The box car lodging, thankfully air conditioned since my car's thermometer registered 102 degrees en route there, was a small, but memorable part of the experience at the Edward Lowe Foundation's campus and retreat center at Big Rock Valley.  What a place!

I was there as part of a three-day retreat of the Economic Development Research Partners, a wing of the International Economic Development Council.  There were economic development pros from 11 different states represented there for a chance to share professional perspectives, look ahead at economic development trends, and set the agenda for the next year.

Economic gardening was one of the topics.  I'll write more about that Monday.

Manufacturing was a topic too.  EDRP will publish a report expected to be titled Jobs in The Making:  Economic Development Strategies to Support Manufacturing at the Annual IEDC Conference in September.  My colleagues and I have aided a very able staff effort in researching and compiling a great look at the role economic development professionals can play in boosting manufacturing-related industries in their communities.

It's a great piece that, selfishly, will include some references to Licking County.

The retreat produced an agenda of research projects for the coming year, despite the odds.  With a mix of people from New York to Nevada and Minnesota to Texas in the room, it can be difficult to get agreement on what the focus of national pieces should be.  I was surprised by the efficiency.  Though its not my place to reveal the outcome, I can say it motivates me to continue.  I consider one of the themes of the next year's agenda to be focused on continuing the manufacturing-focused work and looking ahead.

Stay tuned.

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