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Thread: Marketing Planners as Economic Developers

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Montannie's avatar
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    Apr 2009
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    Missoula, MT
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    Marketing Planners as Economic Developers

    Hi -

    I am interested in making the transition into economic development and was wondering if there are any planners out there working for economic development firms who can speak to what we should highlight...

    What do you think are the skills planners have that are most applicable to economic development?

    What skillsets and experience would you highlight as being most transferable?

    I've gotten some heads-up that a planning background can be good for economic development, but I'm wondering exactly what people hiring at ED firms are looking for.....

    Thoughts?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian ursus's avatar
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    I work (for the first time) in an office where my Community and Economic Development Director is truly an Economic Development professional. So this is all just my observation, but let me tell you what I think sets him apart from alot of the planners like me: 1) Very steeped in the finances. He has a good financial background in every sense, and the RDA money we have generally is just burning a hole in his pocket until he can find a way to spend it. 2) Very adept at the real estate end of things (where I get bored and don't care anymore, he knows all the ins and outs and still maintains a professional real estate license). 3) Lastly, he's very socially adept. I mean, to the point of being almost like a lobbyist. He is very much all about who he knows and has relationships with, etc - a real networker.

    With all that said, he is a fair planner when he needs to be, though he'll usually deny it. We generally play good cop-bad cop.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Montannie's avatar
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    Thanks, Ursus!

    What would you say are the planning skills you have that you use the most in your ED work? I don't have as much of a financial planning background, so am trying to stress other transferable skills that are still important in the field of ED...

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Aug 2001
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    The Cheese State
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    It somewhat depends on what your economic development focus may be. Typical planning skills may be relevant to redevelopment projects and to encouraging new development activity. The challenge is that the planner is typically focused on regulation of uses, not their promotion.

    There is a need for strong analytical skills in economic development, for activities such as market analysis, industry targeting, and project assessment. You need to have a solid knowledge of the operational characteristics of a broad set of industries, as well as site locational criteria and incentives. Marketing skills are also desirable.

    As ursus suggested, the best economic developers are also good networkers.
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