The Monthly Development with Pat Mobley

Posted on August 22, 2012

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The wait is over, here is the first installment of the Monthly Development with Pat Mobley. (Related link: If He Can’t Blog, No One Can.)

The Big 3

Pat Mobley, MPA

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Welcome to the first installment of a monthly series on municipal economic development.  I look forward to the dialogue and sharing this will generate.  If you are curious about me, a brief bio can be found here on ELGL or check out my professional profile on LinkedIn.  Looking ahead, the intent is to be relevant and promote information sharing within the ELGL community.  I appreciate your time and participation.

The Big 3

Economic development isn’t that hard…right?  It’ll happen on its own.  No need to plan.  If anything, just go out and recruit a company to open an office in that nice piece of industrial zoned land.  Well, as the axiom goes what is measured is valued, is it not equally true that what is not planned does not define those values?  I say yes.  You need a plan that involves elected officials, the business community, and your citizens (Gordan, 2012).  The three most practical concepts you can employ as you develop and implement your plans are:  1) basic business marketing; 2) business targeting; and 3) culture.

#1  Rule of Thumb

Business marketing is broken down into three categories.  The first is repeat clients followed by referrals and finally new business development.  According to the International Economic Development Council, they put forward the following percentages based on the work of Eric P. Canada.  Repeat clients account for 70% of all business.  Referrals provide 15% of one’s business.  The remaining 15% entails new business development.  Therefore, a plan focusing the majority of scarce municipal resources towards recruitment neglects 85% of your economic development opportunities (IEDC, 2006).

#2 Targeting

Now that you’re focusing those resources on the 85%, where will you get your greatest return on investment?  At our August 8 lunch with Sean Robbins, CEO at Greater Portland Inc., the sweet spots are companies between 15 and 30 employees that are planning for growth by selling their goods and services to the broader national and/or international markets.  Retail just recycles the wealth already in the community.  Bringing in new money from outside your region creates wealth and more jobs.

#3 Culture of Yes

This is where the long-term success and continued citizen support comes into focus.  When you’ve hit the pavement and talk with your targeted businesses, let them know that the city is there to help them get to yes.  Yes, we can provide connections to market data as you prepare and implement your growth strategy.  Yes, we can work with you through the permitting process and as issues arise we’ll be honest but always looking for a way to yes.  Don’t be afraid to communicate successful and unsuccessful projects.  Let your colleagues, municipalities, professional associations, local media, citizen engagement organizations, and social networking outlets know about what worked and did not.

Please, post comments and questions here.  If you have more specific questions and prefer a less public dialogue, email me directly at [email protected].   More importantly, let me know what you are interested in me covering in the future.  Cheers!  Pat Mobley, MPA

Upcoming Posts

  • Wednesday, September 26 – Oregon’s Infrastructure Finance Authority
  • Wednesday, October 31 – Jobs are the only metric?
  • Wednesday, November 28 – Defining Economic Development: Belonging & Community
  • December – End of Year Break


Gordon, Gerald.  (2012).  Lessons of local economies: what’s obvious may not be.  Public Management, 94 (6), 6-9.

International Economic Development Council.  (2006).  Introduction to economic development.  Washington, DC:  Shari Garmise, Swati Ghosh, Corky Neale, and Shari Nourick.

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