Column: Jobs drive the economy
The outcome of our job and tax base creation work (economic development) sets the stage for our community’s future development.
How? The kinds of jobs created drive the residential and commercial demand for land use. That in turn requires infrastructure and city services to support the demand.
The investment pays for the city services and provides for additional services, which begin to dictate what further kinds of economic base our community attracts and retains. And the cycle goes on and on and on until we have become something by accident if we don’t make the effort to select our own future.
No matter how we cut it, we can no longer avoid the community development consequences of our efforts and in fact must become proficient at strategizing for our community’s development.
Leaders in the economies of our prospering areas intimately know that the value added of economic development these days is less appreciated than during the economic down cycles. In fact, in some prospering areas, there is a fundamental disconnect between what once was evident: That jobs are the economic underpinnings of our communities.
Now quality of life is the formula for those with jobs. Few seem to appreciate or make the connection that a good job helps one achieve a better quality of life.
Just as companies must change with the times, so must economic developers.
We have successfully made the transition from industrial developers to economic developers. And, whether we want to admit it or not, for whatever reasons, we are community developers as well.
I am just curious. Is it time to incorporate community development into economic development?
Fortunately, in Carson City, the supervisors, city staff, University of Nevada, Reno, Western Nevada Community College, Carson-Tahoe Hospital, the chamber of commerce, the school district, the Nevada Manufacturer’s Association, the Builder’s Association of Western Nevada, the Commission on Economic Development and the utility companies, recognize the need to address growth management issues, community development and work force interests. This group of people and organizations will be the steering committee to develop a strategic plan for the economic future of Carson City. We want to determine where we are, what we want to be and how we are going to get to where we want to be.
In these complex times, economics and economies are difficult to separate from their surrounding community development contexts. What were once trade or railroad or technologically driven “new economies” are now complex entangled communities of diverse social, cultural, economic and even religious interests. Their unifying top of mind concern is less “job creation” and more “quality of life” issues.
Dealing with these issue-oriented interest groups requires more than the “economic development” skill sets of the ’70s and the ’80s. As NNDA continues to succeed, we need to adapt to new realities and new priorities relegated to planning departments and community development activists. NNDA wants to enhance our communities in every respect. We want communities without urban congestion developing with a minimum of growing pains. We’re prosperous now, and we want to be even more prosperous in the years ahead. Our citizens take pride in their accomplishments and share a determination to make the capital region a healthy economic “model” in the state.
Consider the community development outcomes of our economic development activities. And then consider: Are we a community developer or economic developer? Or both?
Kris Holt is the executive director of the Northern Nevada Development Authority.