Third Quarter 2012
story by GRED WILLIAMS, PRESIDENT/CEO LAWRENCE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
Lawrence Chamber of Commerce: The Reality of Economic Development
The term “economic development” means different things to different people. Without a common understanding of what economic development is, it is difficult to build a framework for discussion
on what it means to our community.
In its most simplistic definition, economic development is the process of creating community wealth by connecting business and people in way that allows them to make a profit. Economic development is the lifeblood of a community. It is fundamental to our success and helps community leaders ensure an improving quality of life for its citizens – both current and future.
We know that successful economic development is not a “one size fits all” model and that no single model will meet the needs of all communities. Every community has unique assets, needs and opportunities. Successful economic growth requires an understanding of those assets, needs and opportunities, coupled with a business climate that embraces the innovation and entrepreneurship
necessary to move from the generation of an idea to job creation.
The Lawrence Chamber of Commerce plays a significant role in the development and implementation of an economic development platform at the local level. The Chamber’s goal, in concert with the
city and county, is to position Lawrence and Douglas County for success, developing sound public policy and pro-business, common sense programs beneficial to companies who hire our residents.
The City and County are doing tremendous things, developing policy with vision and forethought, with the goal of creating new jobs that benefit our citizens and community.
Earlier this year, Site Selection magazine (a national trade publication focused on economic development) released its list of top performing U.S. economic development groups. They are: The Baton Rouge Area Chamber; the Dallas Regional Chamber; the Greater Houston Partnership; the Nashville Area Chamber; the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance; and the Select Greater Philadelphia organization. Rankings were based on jobs and capital investment generated by corporate facility projects on a per capita basis, as well as creativity in strategy, depth and breadth of project activity, and the ability to generate “breakthrough deals”. This is a signal, loud and clear, that chambers of commerce that take their work very seriously lead the best economic development programs in America.
Chambers of Commerce is the logical, natural place for community economic development programs to be born and implemented, and in Lawrence, led by a strong partnership between the Chamber
of Commerce, Douglas County and the City of Lawrence.
Economic development is one of the most high profile, and highly competitive, efforts any strong Chamber chooses to undertake. This is a challenge the Lawrence of Chamber of Commerce is ready
to meet, working with the City and County to create jobs that benefit our residents and community