THE GROWTH SPECIALIST: Top Ten Things Local Officials Can Do To Promote Job Creation

G. Edward DeSeve, Senior Fellow, University of Maryland
G. Edward DeSeve, Senior Fellow, University of Maryland

By G. Edward DeSeve, Senior Fellow, University of Maryland, Public Management and Finance
From the March/April 2012 issue

As a senior advisor to the president, G. Edward DeSeve oversaw the implementation of the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. He has been a professor of public management at the University of Maryland, where he currently is a senior fellow.

1. Know your job creators: You need to find out what kind of jobs employers currently have in place and whether their companies and their industries are likely to grow. You need to get the statistics and also talk directly with large and small employers.

2. Know your labor force: What kinds of skills are in your labor force and how can they be enhanced? Do these skills fit what employers need? Will you need to “import” some workers? Where are you likely to find them? For example, Canadian health-care providers recently advertised in the U.S. for workers to fill their skill shortages.

3. Know the strengths and weaknesses of your community: Location, transportation, infrastructure, quality of life and education are only some of the factors that affect location decisions. Seek out location consultants and ask them how you stack up against your competition–regionally, nationally and internationally.

4. Partner: Find employers who are willing to work with you and put them to work with their customers, their suppliers and their colleagues to encourage job creation. The “agglomeration effect,” where co-location promotes efficiency, is very real.

5. Talk constantly: Let people know that you are “open for work.” At every chance, let employers know that you want to help in any way you can. Go to schools and colleges and encourage faculty to understand local needs and encourage students to seek employment locally after they graduate.

6. Have a plan: Publish an official “plan for jobs.” This should describe what kinds of jobs you want, where they could be located, what incentives are available, what federal government programs can be used to help, what regulations might need to be changed, and how taxes can be modified to encourage job creation. Make sure that there is an organizational infrastructure in place to carry out this plan with well-packaged financing and training available.

7. Streamline processes: Make it easy for employers to add jobs in your community. Everything from applying for a business license to getting construction permits to paying taxes should be as simple as possible, and there should be a bias in your government in favor of simplifying processes for employers.

8. Emphasize services: The business of local government is to provide services. Let people know how good yours are. Whether it is police or fire or water and sewer, good services thoughtfully provided to employers can be very helpful. If you have a great recycling program, for example, let employers know about it. A green community may be just what an employer is looking for.

9. Partner again, this time with other governments in your region: Jobs in a town or county just across the border will help your residents as well. A joint effort to sell a region can be more effective than cutthroat competition. Work at the state level to promote every benefit that your state has to offer to encourage employers to expand.

10. Hustle: At every opportunity, talk about jobs and the need to create more. Go to every event you can where job expansion is happening. Let the employers know that you are glad to help in any way you can. Be relentless.

Prof. DeSeve’s columns appear online.