Economic development director outlines LED’s Community Competitiveness Initiative _lowres

Advocate staff photo by STACY GILL -- Louisiana Economic Development's Skip Smart, Zachary Economic Development Coordinator and Rotarian Kate MacArthur and Rotarian LT Dupre, from left, at Zachary Rotary's Sept. 3 meeting, where Smart was the guest speaker and shared information on LED's Community Competitiveness Initiative.

Louisiana Economic Development’s Director of Community Competitiveness Skip Smart spoke to Zachary Rotarians Sept. 3 about LED’s Community Competitiveness Initiative, introduced in July and developed to inform, educate and inspire.

“The information used to determine the economic development capacity of communities will primarily be used for planning, allocating resources and developing policies to enhance our state’s economic development,” Smart said.

Smart worked with Zachary in 2009 and 2010, when it was one of 19 communities selected for LED’s Louisiana Development Ready Communities Program. The LDRC program helps prepare communities such as Zachary in creating business-friendly environments for attracting jobs and capital investment, Smart said.

CCI acts as the primary driver of both existing and new community competitiveness programming, such as LDRC and Louisiana Community Network.

“Not only can the CCI process help communities identify opportunities for improvement but also help to determine where LED should focus efforts and resources to strengthen economic development capacity throughout the state,” Smart said.

He listed 16 economic development capacity indicators divided into three major areas: organization, product development, and marketing and business development.

Organization indicators look at staffing, budget, economic development plans and engagement levels of economic development organizations in communities.

With product development, CCI considers available sites, buildings, workforce and labor, infrastructure capacity and the understanding of local competitiveness by officials, such as taxes and permitting.

The last group of indicators Smart outlined included marketing plans of communities, economic development partnerships, unique selling points and prospect hosting — which measures the process of educating potential investors about the readiness of a community for business investment and job opportunities.

“Economic development is most successful when all partners are working together at their best. The Louisiana Community Competitiveness Initiative will serve as a tool for economic developers and volunteers to gain access to the information and resources they need to achieve excellence in economic development,” Smart said.

For a complete outline of the CCI, visit www.lma.org/docs/Convention/2015/Session1_Skip_Smart.pdf.