Two challenges: What is it? and How do we do it? Chances are, if you ask all the people I just mentioned (25+), you'll get a dozen or better answers. Things like:
- Job creation
- Property tax relief
- Boosting sales tax revenue
- Attracting new residents
- More/different businesses
The list goes on and on...The truth is, it's all of those things; and all of the things that contribute to those things...and while we're at it, the things that contribute to...well, you get the point.
Defining Economic Development is much easier than talking about the how. In previous iterations, the City's Economic Development Office was consolidated with code enforcement officers, planners, grant administrators, and virtually every community development function you could think of. The Director was forced, in any given day, to deal with an irate landlord who just failed their rental inspection, attend a water quality discussion, review leases for incubator tenants, and process payroll for 7 or 8 staffers. Doesn't leave much time for business recruitment or retention does it?
The year after we split Economic Development into its own office, and removed the shackles of Code Enforcement and Home Ownership programs, the City spent nearly $200,000 in direct funds on the ED office and partner agencies. That's not inclusive of the money spent by the Revolving Loan Fund, IDA, Tech Farm, Ontario County, and other partners.
That same year, the City held a summit of over 20 partner agencies. The group identified dozens of tasks to move the City forward toward a unified economic development vision. A year later, partners wait in the wings for direction. Admittedly we have done little to harness the power of these critical and willing agencies.
This week, the City Council will hear representatives from Camoin Associates deliver an analysis of the Geneva market, and an assessment of our Economic Development vision, and our ability to reach our potential. You can read the proposed strategy here.
The short version is this:
1. Council got the vision right. Everything we want will drive the market, and is well within our grasp.
2. It is completely unachievable if "the City" is the lead agency on all aspects. We must harness the horsepower of our community partners to realize our vision.
Look for strategies on how to accomplish this in October.