sponsored a forum yesterday at the Queen City Club
that was an opportunity for consultants and governmental leaders to network and to learn the latest strategies in economic development in Ohio and Kentucky.
J.R. Wilhite, commissioner in the Department of New Business Development for the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development
, says that regardless of all of the innovations and new technologies on the horizon, it still comes down to "blocking and tackling".
"Economic development is changing," he says. "But just like football has changed with its many rule changes, so must we."
Wilhite says that one of his state's strategies has been a greater focus on Europe, where the Kentucky has contracted with ROI to research the continent's firms and to make initial contact.
Steve Schoeny, director of the strategic business investment division of the Ohio Department of Development
, says that Ohio not only needs to do a better job of telling its story, but of developing its workforce as well.
"Our services are of a national caliber," he says. "However, the system for delivering those services is not."
Schoeny says that Ohio economic development will improve by attracting and retaining young talent through initiatives such as Ohio Means Home and the Ohio Young Talent Network, properly training state staff to focus on clients rather than individuals, and setting up a culture of customer service.
Marti Bremer, senior manager of state and local tax for KPMG, LLP
, gave an overview of some of the domestic trends in economic development, including the targeting of industries, benchmarking, giving monetary incentives, public/private partnerships, entrepreneurship programs, development of shovel-ready sites, and workforce development.
Managing director Greg Burkart, of the Novi, Michigan office of Duff & Phelps
, provided some insights on economic development websites from the client point of view.
"You may be ruled in or ruled out long before you know it just based upon what information is publicly available," he says.
The final speaker, vice president and director of Austin Consulting
Don Schjeldahl, says that alternative energies such as photovoltaic, concentrated solar, and wind power are poised to make significant gains in the next 10 to 15 years, and the geographical pattern for how those industries will be defined has not yet been set.
"If you don't have your act together, you're going to miss the window," he says.
Schjeldahl says that there are still opportunities for Ohio, if they can create market demand for the new technologies and can create awareness of and preparedness for sustainability in the state's communities.
Writer: Kevin LeMaster
Sources: J.R. Wilhite, commissioner in Department for New Business Development, Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development; Steve Schoeny, director of Economic Development Division, Ohio Department of Development; Marti Brenner, senior manager of state and local tax, KPMG, LLC; Greg Burkart, managing director, Duff & Phelps, LLC; Don Schjeldahl, vice president and director, Austin Consulting