An Economic Opportunity Advisory Council has been selected and commissioned. Potential critics should be conscious of the word “advisory” in its name. The council will never be able to single-handedly improve the economy in Flagler County.
The reason is simple. Economic development is the responsibility of the public and private entities that the council serves. If one is to understand the role of any organization whose function it is to assist in the improvement of the economic conditions of its cities or county, one must first think of the council as an advisory and promotional entity.
It does not have the means or authority to close a deal. It works with the planning and zoning boards of the community to achieve commercial developments that will add to our commercial areas’ attractiveness, while preserving, protecting and enhancing our residential communities.
The business of the promotional organization is to carry the message (the offer) that government and private sector planners have created, in their effort to maintain a healthy economic environment for its citizens, to those who might consider locating or expanding their businesses in the county.
Economic opportunity in this context means to stimulate and attract viable commercial enterprises for the advantages they bring to a community and its citizens.
To that end, one would expect that the Economic Opportunity Advisory Council would understand the target market and the forces that can bring changes to the marketplace. Those who are engaged in this promotional effort must be willing and able to make recommendations to the public and private clients they serve in their effort to encourage economic opportunity in our community.
Site selectors, consultants and in-house departments are numerous. They look at many aspects of a community to see what advantages it may bring to the decision-makers who sent them to find suitable, desirable business locations.
Let us assume that, as with many business decisions, the site selectors will bring three recommendations to their clients. In our community’s past, it was rare that we ever made the recommendation list, considering the lack of competitive advantages that were offered. It is no surprise that it is hard to find someone who believes that the forces that have worked to achieve economic opportunity in the past have been failures.
When our community did win an economic opportunity no one ever said, “It couldn’t have been done without the help of the economic opportunity entities.”
Similarly, the reputation of the Economic Opportunity Advisory Council will be wronged after a loss if its clients blame them for the loss.
All should agree that the council will act as an umbrella organization that pulls together and coordinates the county’s many and diverse interests, organizations, and constituents to ensure integral participation of the private sector in economic development.
Further, it will become the “one voice” advocate of the public-private sector in pursuit of economic opportunity. It will have the ability and forces needed, and it will be able to stimulate and assist business growth, expand job opportunities, and enhance the competitive position of Flagler County in the marketplace. The council is an important tool in the development and execution of the economic development strategy.
Saul Caro was the volunteer marketing director for former Enterprise Flagler Executive Director Tom Cooley.