We were honored this week to have Kenny McDonald, the President and CEO of Columbus 2020, join us for a best practices exchange.
Kenny spoke at our Board of Advisors meeting and spent some time with our leadership, our partner organizations, and our internal team sharing how Columbus 2020 is organized, works with its partners, and is a force for growth in the Columbus, OH region.
We asked Kenny to join us because the Columbus region has about the same population as the Wasatch Front. It’s young, well-educated, and similarly competes on logistics and workforce. Kenny’s also developed a reputation nationally as a thought leader in economic development practices. We are grateful to Kenny for being so open with us; his visit did not disappoint.
There are a few things Kenny said in various forums that really stood out to me:
- The 30 + mid-sized MSAs have lead the country in job and economic growth. Those metros compete well on talent, quality of life, cost and scalability. Although there’s a lot of great momentum for MSAs the size of the Wasatch Front CSA, it’s important to remember that we’re all competing in a global marketplace. My takeaway is that our increased efforts on rural Utah’s economic development are well placed since the momentum is not in rural communities’ favor. It’s going to take a concerted, focused, and well financed effort to change the momentum.
- Talent Attraction – whether we know it or not, we’re in the talent attraction game. By relentlessly promoting our market we are promoting it as a destination for both corporate expansion and talent. Wet measure our impact on corporate recruitment, we don’t measure it on talent recruitment.
- Kenny shared with us that, like EDCUtah, his organization is religious about its metrics. However, Kenny encouraged us to personalize our outcomes. I thought that was an astute observation and it’s one we forget about but shouldn’t. After all, it gets to the “Why” of economic development: we do this because we’re trying to create better opportunities for families and individuals!
I’ve got a bunch of other great notes and gleaned a tremendous amount of insight from Kenny. Feel free to reach out to me directly on Twitter @tafoxley or by email if you’d like to hear more.