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Thread: City plans for cyber economic presence-the next evolution?

  1. #1
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    City plans for cyber economic presence-the next evolution?

    I'd like your feedback and thoughts. Lately, I have been giving a lot of thought to the critical need for city economic planning to include a formal strategy to tap and channel the wealth of the growing online market industry.

    In today tough economic times, it's becoming increasingly difficult for the Economic Commissions to attract new businesses to respecitve cities and rural areas. As a result, many jobs and opportunities are disapearing.

    Question: Is it possible for a city's long range economic plan to also address an approach for it's "parallel" cyber city" to capture and draw significant revenue from the emerging online marketplace?

    I lean to believe aggressive exploration of this economic approach is imperative for the survival of many cities and rural communities over the next 5-10 years.

    This thought may be ahead of it's time, but, in the world of internet and virtual communities...the economic playing field is leveled even for rural communities. Any forward thinking community could potentially move into a commanding economic position. Your thoughts?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    The virtual world will not destroy the real one.

    Should people be making money they will have the disposable income to spend in Cities. While online shopping may be nice, it does not compete with being able to go to a bookstore. People will still need to eat. You can't make widgets online or even distribute them. Ignoring goods while going after just the service portion of the economy would be a huge mistake. Goods are more than just televisions and cars. They are infrastructure, groceries, the church's bake sale.

    People may want to live anywhere, but in reality they can't. Even if they choose to move to rural Montana, they will still be tied to their nearest urban areas. Online pprocesses may make people more productive, but you just can't assume that they will change all behavious because of it. People are still a social being. A good example of technology implementation making something more productive would be farmers who use GPS to increase their yeilds. The farmers still are tied to their land, they are just able to utilize it better.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  3. #3
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    City plans for cyber economic presence-the next evolution?

    Agree. The virtual world would not destroy the real world. The two should co-exist, be mutually supportive, and freely flow (human, social, and financial) capital between each other.

    The primary purpose for a city or town to pursue an e-commerce strategy would be to use it as a tool to generate additonal revenue flowing into the city (from the wealth of the internet). The idea would be not to replace any real world socialization or processes. This is just a tool that enables the local folks to tap and channel in money from the internet. The additional revenue would be used and spent to support local service industry and infrastructure.

    As this additional revenue may be a critical resource over the next 5-10 years. Should it be the responsibility of city economic planning to have a position and/or to develop an approach to ensure the option is explored? ...or should it be left to the local businesses/individuals?

  4. #4
    Cyburbian AnvilPartners's avatar
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    The flip side of the coin

    There is a positive correlation between strong economic development and strong communications infrastructure.

    There was a presentation at the 2006 APA conference in Philly about that very subject. The economic development paradigm is shifting away from attracting the big box biz and moving towards empowering the folks within the communty to develop businesses that can compete globally, by way of the web -- this was studied by Darreen Hackler (George Mason) and another person from Va Tech
    (Heika Mier?) -- (please forgive the spelling on both names) & presented at the conference.

    It comes down to having strong communications infrastructure in order to empower folks to access and market products and services on the web. I think that planners may be missing this shift -- and it's an important one, since it will result in the creation of additional communications infrastructure. There will be other beneficial effects from the presence of enhanced communications -- safety, health, education, quality of life...and that infrastrucure will also have an impact on the way that local governments provide their services and serve their missions.

    I also think that wireless communications infrastructure is going to play a more important role in this than most realize, because it will be providing connectivity and communications to many citizens out there that can't be served in any other way (the rural "last mile") -- in addition to the folks in urban areas that have lots of choices for services. The benefits mentioned above will be available to everyone. Across the next decade, wireless infrastructure will be offering wider choices in terms of services and applications, and will become much like water, sewer, electricity and gas -- an infrastructure that is thought of as a basic human need/service.

    The FCC is still pushing for a nationwide broadband connectivity requirement for the winner of an upcoming auction -- there are many reasons why such connectivity would be a positive thing for our country, and there are changes that such connectivity will bring to our cities as well as rural spaces.

    RES
    "Sometimes you have to get medieval with it...hammer, sparks, sweat, the whole nine yards...so don't forget your asbestos suit."
    Aphorisms on Public Hearings, Planning Guild Handbook (2001).

  5. #5
    It may well be that having the greater communication failitated by the interenet may make some aras less desirable. If a larger mid-distance city can provide services to the rural/small city via the internet, there may be less incentive to live or locate a buisness there. In general, the rise of the internet has boosted development in a few cities much more than rural areas. Only those rural areas with great access to amenities like those in the Rocky Mountains have really prospered. Those areas on the great plains, far from anything, have continued to lose population. San Jose, Boston, San Francisco, Seattle have been great at attracting new internet related businesses.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally posted by AnvilPartners View post
    There is a positive correlation between strong economic development and strong communications infrastructure.

    There was a presentation at the 2006 APA conference in Philly about that very subject. The economic development paradigm is shifting away from attracting the big box biz and moving towards empowering the folks within the communty to develop businesses that can compete globally, by way of the web -- this was studied by Darreen Hackler (George Mason) and another person from Va Tech
    (Heika Mier?) -- (please forgive the spelling on both names) & presented at the conference.

    It comes down to having strong communications infrastructure in order to empower folks to access and market products and services on the web. I think that planners may be missing this shift -- and it's an important one, since it will result in the creation of additional communications infrastructure. There will be other beneficial effects from the presence of enhanced communications -- safety, health, education, quality of life...and that infrastrucure will also have an impact on the way that local governments provide their services and serve their missions.

    I also think that wireless communications infrastructure is going to play a more important role in this than most realize, because it will be providing connectivity and communications to many citizens out there that can't be served in any other way (the rural "last mile") -- in addition to the folks in urban areas that have lots of choices for services. The benefits mentioned above will be available to everyone. Across the next decade, wireless infrastructure will be offering wider choices in terms of services and applications, and will become much like water, sewer, electricity and gas -- an infrastructure that is thought of as a basic human need/service.

    The FCC is still pushing for a nationwide broadband connectivity requirement for the winner of an upcoming auction -- there are many reasons why such connectivity would be a positive thing for our country, and there are changes that such connectivity will bring to our cities as well as rural spaces.

    RES
    Interesting, excellent info!

  7. #7
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    There is a positive correlation between strong economic development and strong communications infras

    I tried to find the referenced 2006 APA conference presentation and could not located it on the internet. However, I agree, the starting point for community planning is to invest in a strong communications infrastructure in order to empower folks to access and market products and services on the web.

    This would be an excellent investment for rural communities seeking to get ahead of the curve and posture themselve to capture emerging wealth on the internet--over the next 5-10 years. I agree that city planners are missing the shift.

    I agree that developing a solid communication infrastructure is the first step to many city-wide solutions...as mentioned--safety, health, education, quality of life...reparation, etc.

    I plan to develop a working model in working with Reservations and rural communities. The model will demonstrate the community benefits of investing in a strong wireless/communication network and empowering an internet marketing strategy to generate web revenue--to fund/support community development.

    I don't have it all figured out, but, I will approach our city economic development commission to understand their strategic vision for wireless communication and tools to empower e-commerce. Our entire economic system is being reshuffled. I believe the communities that recognize the shift and make the adjustment will posture themselves to grow and thrive in the future. Appreciate any other suggestions.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    I do believe there is a vital role for economic development in promoting effective e-commerce. I also believe that the current strategies - broadband and wireless infrastructure promotion - fail to grasp the real need.

    Excepting some rural locations, most of the urban and suburban communities in the US have reliable broadband infrastructure through private companies. Local infrastructure initiatives may be needed in some cases, but that need is not widespread. More frequently, the only payoff is when better access is provided to people who could not otherwise afford it, or as an inducement to help revitlize an area such as a downtown by offering wireless service.

    The real need that I see is in educating businesses about how to function on the internet and assisting them in developing their web presence. Small businesses and even lone eagles can make an income through use of the web. Look, for example, how Ebay changed the antique business. Now, many antique vendors make more from web sales than from a physical presence. Business consultants, writers, and other professionals can also reach much broader audiences through the web. Unfortunately, most do not really have a clue how to do this.

    An economic development initiaitive to educate businesses about how to use the web, coupled with a program to help them develop their web site and other resources, would be a very effective tool.
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  9. #9
    Cyburbian AnvilPartners's avatar
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    that conference session

    you may still be able to get the audio CD -- the conference session was:

    Identifying Sources of Economic Growth
    Sunday, 04/15/07 10:30am to 11:45am

    RES
    "Sometimes you have to get medieval with it...hammer, sparks, sweat, the whole nine yards...so don't forget your asbestos suit."
    Aphorisms on Public Hearings, Planning Guild Handbook (2001).

  10. #10
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Interesting discussion and something I had been thinking about from another angle lately.

    Recently, I became aware of the site Etsy.com which some of you probably know of. Its a site that features largely handmade items for sale. What is interesting is the way it works. As a vendor, you "rent a storefront" on the site and promote your products, selling and shipping directly to the buyer. The fee to vend is quite nominal (20 cents to list an individual item for 4 months) and much of the income is generated from ads. Otherwise, the site itself does not meddle in the transaction.

    The nice thing is that you can buy items handmade by small sellers in far flung areas that otherwise would have a very hard time marketing themselves and generating revenue. I got two hand made wooden picks and an ironwood slide for my brother from some guy in a small Texas town. Suddenly, that guy can generate some income from his craft, but he doesn't have to move to a city or otherwise convince a larger vendor to sell his wares (which he would probably have a hard time meeting production demands for anyway).

    So...I can see how models like this inspires entrepreneurship in an environment that is cost prohibitive should you decide to open a physical storefront. "The Wooden Pick Store" is only viable in certain boutique retail districts and seems entirely unlikely to survive the current crisis.

    How a city capitalizes on all of this may be another question, but I could see a city setting up a site just like this to facil;itate small business development (maybe some could eventually develop into physical locations as well). Still, it raises some questions worth asking - like how it profits from such an investment (in communications infrastructure)?

    The city benefits when residents make more money because they (the residents) have more money to spend. But what about things like sales or gross receipts tax? I just don't know enough about this, but often people do not pay taxes on internet transactions. Do the sellers then still need to pay this tax to the local municipality? Or will it just come out of their income tax? (in which case, revenue goes to the state or feds)?

    Aside from being "the right thing to do" I think it is important to wonder how a robust communications infrastructure (an expenditure) can increase revenue in cities already faltering with deficits projected for at least the next year. Answering that question will make such an investment m,uch more amenable to any city council.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by wahday View post
    ...How a city capitalizes on all of this may be another question, but I could see a city setting up a site just like this to facil;itate small business development (maybe some could eventually develop into physical locations as well). Still, it raises some questions worth asking - like how it profits from such an investment...
    This is an idea I have discussed before with a statewide downtown organization. We had the thought of creating a portal for all of our member organizations, and that led to discussions of online retailing for businesses in the community. It all grew too large of a concept to manage and we never pursued it.

    It seems like an idea like this would be particularly effective in places that already have a reputation as a specialty store destination. I am thinking of places like Galena, Illinois, Mineral Point, Wisconsin, Nashville, Indiana, Traverse city, Michigan, Ashville, North Carolina, Taos, New Mexico, and others. The protal could be something of a virtual downtown district, including all of the downtown specialty businesses, but also other artists, antique dealers, craftsmen, and specialty businesses in the area.

    Such a website would need an initial outlay of capital to develop, but I suspect it could generate enough revenue to sustain it and perhaps even generate a profit for the community. Currently, most states do not require the seller to charge sales taxes on purchases shipped out of state, and there is no tax specifically on internet sales. The "fee" for participating, and selling items through the portal could be equal to the taxes that would normally be charged on the item if it were sold in the community.
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  12. #12
    Cyburbian AnvilPartners's avatar
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    The economic development commission?

    An EDC might be a good nest for something like that portal to grow in -- the organizational framework and business incubator environment, as well as opportunities for some assistive funding might be available to get it going.

    I'm interested in finding ways that technology and better communications infrastructure will help local governments pursue their mission and more efficiently provide services.

    I think that there are unexplored opportunities for localities to engage the private communications infrastructure, from a land use perspective, to gain benefits for the community.

    Case in point -- you already have an emergency management plan, and you've identified essential facilities in your community. If a communications provider is going to provide service to an essential facility, evacuation route, incident command center etc...why are we allowing them to build their infrastructure to the nominal standard, when the IBC is requiring all essential facilities to be built to a higher standard? The idea is to have the facilities operational POST incident, so they are supportive of response and recovery. If the communications providers servicing those essential facilities don't build to a higher standard, their services won't be there to support the response and recovery. We recognize the need for hospitals and other essential facilities to operate post incident, but we don't recognize the need for wireless communications to operate post incident?

    The major lesson the tower cos learned from katrina was that the towers were mostly left standing, but the radio equipment was under water, or the antennas and coax were blown off the tower...or the generators ran out of deisel -- ALL of these things are avoidable...we just haven't chosen to pursue it yet...and industry isn't going to step up and ask for more expensive deployments -- the communities are going to have to demand it.

    These are the kinds of gaps that I think Planners should step in and fill -- a slight change to local codes and a few conditions of approval would do it --

    Sorry for the rant...
    "Sometimes you have to get medieval with it...hammer, sparks, sweat, the whole nine yards...so don't forget your asbestos suit."
    Aphorisms on Public Hearings, Planning Guild Handbook (2001).

  13. #13
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    Cardinal:

    This is a great idea.
    I do believe there is a vital role for economic development in promoting effective e-commerce. I also believe that the current strategies - broadband and wireless infrastructure promotion - fail to grasp the real need.

    Excepting some rural locations, most of the urban and suburban communities in the US have reliable broadband infrastructure through private companies. Local infrastructure initiatives may be needed in some cases, but that need is not widespread. More frequently, the only payoff is when better access is provided to people who could not otherwise afford it, or as an inducement to help revitlize an area such as a downtown by offering wireless service.

    The real need that I see is in educating businesses about how to function on the internet and assisting them in developing their web presence. Small businesses and even lone eagles can make an income through use of the web. Look, for example, how Ebay changed the antique business. Now, many antique vendors make more from web sales than from a physical presence. Business consultants, writers, and other professionals can also reach much broader audiences through the web. Unfortunately, most do not really have a clue how to do this.

    An economic development initiaitive to educate businesses about how to use the web, coupled with a program to help them develop their web site and other resources, would be a very effective tool.[/QUOTE]

  14. #14
    Cyburbian AnvilPartners's avatar
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    The community college here is doing that...

    Just recently the Cape Fear Community College began offering classes to folks to help them create and market a biz, and also to develop a website. I've been attending their classes and they have solid folks teaching -- I've gotten something positive from each class.
    "Sometimes you have to get medieval with it...hammer, sparks, sweat, the whole nine yards...so don't forget your asbestos suit."
    Aphorisms on Public Hearings, Planning Guild Handbook (2001).

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