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CityWide Hosts Economic Development Dialogue
Dayton, Ohio – Nov 1, 2011 – Nationally-recognized speakers, Mark Lang and Penny Lewandowski, of the Edward Lowe Foundation, spoke at Sinclair Community College on how communities can embrace strategies to grow existing businesses and plant the seeds for a stronger local economy.
At the event, the subject of economic gardening was explored, which is the concept that local businesses drive economies and create jobs in a community rather than the practice of solely recruiting from elsewhere. The goal of economic gardening is to connect entrepreneurs and expanding companies to resources, infrastructure and information to ensure they are afforded the same opportunities to grow and thrive as large corporations.
“Everyone is talking about how to create jobs in this economy and the Economic Gardening Dialogue, offers some perspective on that important topic. We are thrilled to have the nationally recognized Edward Lowe Foundation principals here facilitating an insightful community dialogue on how to better support second-stage companies,” said Steve Budd, President of CityWide.
The traditional economic development model of attracting businesses by itself may not be sufficient enough to grow economies but blended with proven, newer strategies such as economic gardening is what will help contribute to greater successes in communities. Steve Budd further adds, “We hope that by offering a venue for discussion, region leaders, business owners, and residents alike, will embrace new ways of thinking about economic development.”
In additional to presentations from Lange and Lewandowski, local business leaders including Al Wofford, President of CDO Technologies, Inc, Shelley Dickstein, Assistant City Manager for Strategic Development, City of Dayton, Jeff Hoagland, President and CEO of the Dayton Development Coalition and Roger Furrer, Market President of First Financial Bank participated in a panel discussion about what is being done to support and nurture Dayton’s business growth.
CityWide, the Dayton area’s leading non-profit economic development agency hosted the 2nd annual event. Presenting sponsors include First Financial Bank and AT&T.
The History of Economic Gardening
Economic gardening was pioneered in 1987 by Chris Gibbons in the city of Littleton, Colorado. The new economic model was based on research by MIT Professor, Jim Birch that indicated that the great majority of jobs come from existing small and local businesses within a community. After the relocation of a Littleton major employer, the community felt the erosion of economic development and, under the leadership of Gibbons, began to implement economic gardening practices. The approach was to grow jobs through entrepreneurial activity instead of economic “hunting”. By supporting second-stage companies (organizations that have grown past the start-up stage), Littleton began to focus on the basic elements of economic gardening which are:
- providing critical information for businesses to survive and thrive;
- development of infrastructures that embraces growth and change; including a basic infrastructure, quality of life infrastructures and intellectual infrastructure
- develop connections with organizations, universities, roundtable groups etc
By sowing these seeds, Littleton has captured interest around the country in both larger and smaller communities. Presently in Littleton, city jobs have doubled and tax revenue has tripled all without money incentives or tax breaks to recruit new businesses. Other resources and published reports can be found at www.edwardlowe.org and www.littletongov.org/bia/economicgardening/default.asp
CityWide is one of the leading economic development organizations in Dayton. CityWide offers a full range of services, including financing for economic development projects, housing activities, site location assistance, and federal and state financial assistance. CityWide serves as the lead organization on the development, leasing and marketing of Tech Town, Dayton’s premier technology park. CityWide has been instrumental in the revitalization of neighborhoods including Genesis and Phoenix. In conjunction with local partners, CityWide developed the long-term economic development plan, CitiPlan 20/20: Focus 2010 & Beyond for the City of Dayton. Learn more at www.citywidedev.com.