Powerful Public Engagement
Public engagement plays a critical role in the economic development and land use planning processes that Camoin Associates' is involved in on a daily basis. Whether to gauge the reaction of a new development, understand the demands for goods and services or empower local organizations to make connections in unexpected places, engaging the community plays a different role in each project. At Camoin, we're also searching for the right tools, venues and approach to make sure the impact of engagement is positive.
Pictured to the right, residents of Waterloo, NY talk with members of the consultant team that worked with Camoin Associates on the Downtown Market Analysis in fall 2018. This final presentation meeting was attended by nearly 100 people who were treated to the baked goods of a local business who is slated to open a storefront in Waterloo's downtown in the coming months. The meeting was an opportunity to showcase local businesses, demonstrate volunteer committee progress and highlight new development possibilities. Scroll down to see other examples of Camoin's public engagement processes in action.
Local Retail Strategies
We have documented the changing retail landscape, consumer preferences and how economic developers can align their work with this industry transformation. Economic development organizations and local governments continue to workshop different policies, incentives, and other programs to mitigate store closures, fill empty storefronts and generate economic activity in downtown corridors.
One of our clients, the Town of Ridgefield, CT, instituted a program to support first-floor retail by offsetting real estate taxes for qualifying retail businesses who were able to sign three-year leases in empty storefronts. The Town successfully utilized all the funds allocated for the program and the Economic Development Commission would like to generate additional funds to offer another round for businesses.
In Woodstock, VT the Economic Development Commission also has a similar goal of filling empty storefronts in the charming New England town. The Commission took a different approach by offering a grant for $2.50 per square foot for a one year lease, which would drastically cut the price of an annual lease. The money for this program was raised through a local tax.
In an industry that continues to evolve, we love working with clients to assess their program options, study their retail trade area and make informed policy decisions based on data.
Data, data, data
It is no secret that Camoiners love a good data source. Our latest find is the Bureau of Economic Analysis' Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by county. While this indicator is widely available at a national and even metropolitan scale, often, local level data is evasive. This more nuanced indicator will allow for more interesting evaluations of county economies and help determine sectors for economic opportunity.
Advancing Economic Development Strategies
The planning process can be informative, exciting and even...fun. But implementing an economic development strategy is challenging and, in addition to a substantive plan, takes leadership, collaboration, and consistent monitoring. Below are a few recent examples of clients who have successfully transitioned from planning to implementation.
Beaufort County, SC
Beginning in 2016, Beaufort County underwent an organizational planning process to reassess regional economic activities. The Beaufort Economic Development Corporation also underwent an Executive Director search which led to new leadership that has helped propel the organization's role in business development and other initiatives indicated in the organizational plan.
In 2017-2018, the MetroHartford Alliance went through the process of an organizational plan and Executive Director search that reinvigorated the Alliance's goals and now has them looking for a Business Investment Director. This new position will allow MetroHartford Alliance to improve business attraction efforts by communicating and projecting the region's competitive factors to the appropriate audiences.
Tallahassee-Leon County OEV
In 2018, Tallahassee-Leon County Office of Economic Vitality completed a target industry and cluster analysis aimed at increasing private sector investment, especially around the region's world-class scientific research facilities. The OEV just announced that they hired a Business Intelligence Manager - a position that is consistent with Camoin's recommendations to increase business intelligence awareness to support target industries.
Created with images by Tools For Motivation - "Painted brick wall" • Mike Petrucci - "Open shop" • Markus Spiske - "Green Matrix rain on a screen"