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Welcome - Issue 15

Welcome to latest edition of the EconomicDevelopment.org newsletter!

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- The EconomicDevelopment.org Team

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Featured Contributor: Michelle Madden

Michelle Madden

By Tarryn Landman

As part of our Featured Contributor series, I recently interviewed Michelle Madden to find out more about her work. Check out Michelle’s posts as well as the Higher ED series, which Michelle helped to create.

Tell me how you first got involved in economic development? How long have you been in the field? Where are you now?

My introduction to economic development was through my hometown’s volunteer economic development committee. Over two summers, I completed research on the community’s tourism assets and appetite for public water and sewer infrastructure. I went on a different path after high school, but then got back to economic development when I was accepted in the University of Waterloo’s master’s program in local economic development in 2011. It provided me with a great overview of the theoretical and practical sides of the field.

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Economic development policy: Moving from incentives to co-investment

By Ed Morrison

So much of our obsession with economic development in local and state government focuses on incentives. By some accounting, state and local incentives total over $60 billion a year, and there’s a business in enabling businesses to grab these goodies.

If I were “king”, I would do away with the term “incentive” and focus our thinking instead on “collaborative investment” (co-investment).

The world is shifting, and we need to move our conversations (and our language) to a new level. Incentives are transactional; co-investments are relational. Incentives are short term; co-investments are longer term. Incentives are gifts; co-investments are commitments.

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Getting down to the nitty-gritty on local labour market data

By Trudy Parsons

Recent weeks have seen much discussion around informing hiring demand by analyzing online job ads.  While this is not a new practice, it is important to recognize that there are various systems available in the market that establish such data sets, each with its own methodology and process.

Given the prevalence of online tools used by both employers and job seekers, and the rapid proliferation of data, it’s important for those in workforce and economic development to understand the opportunities, and challenges, of tracking hiring demand by analyzing online job ads. This is particularly relevant given the need for more detailed local labour market data in communities across Canada (the Auditor-General highlighted this information blind spot in his latest report).

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The Higher ED blog: The next “Silicon Valley” of green tech

By Maureen O’Neal

Silicon Valley, California is envied for its entrepreneurial culture, concentration of highly skilled labour, and wildly successful and innovative companies that often produce equally successful spin-offs. As economic developers, we wonder- is it possible to replicate or somehow tap into the elements that foster this success? How do you take a local industry from a group of successful firms to a full blown “cluster” or hotbed for innovation and driver of economic growth?

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Partners HealthCare drops anchor in new city


Partners HealthCare, a $7.6 billion healthcare firm headquartered in Boston, announced just before Christmas that it was planning to consolidate administrative offices in a new complex in Somerville, Massachusetts, a smaller city located 4 miles north of Boston. For decades, Partners has enjoyed a special status in Boston providing thousands of jobs and access to healthcare to city residents. Naturally, long-time Boston Mayor Tom Menino was disappointed when Partners announced it would bring 4,500 regional jobs to a new campus in neighboring Somerville. The City of Boston had been urging Partners to build on a site in Roxbury, an inner city Boston neighborhood that is currently undergoing significant revitalization.

All of this begs the question, what obligations do corporate anchor institutions like Partners have to their communities?

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Review: The Medici Effect

By Brock Dickinson

Unlike the recently-published books usually reviewed in TINAN, The Medici Effect by Swedish-American writer Frans Johansson was first released a decade ago, back in 2004. It takes its name from the machinations of the notorious House of Medici, a wealthy Florentine family known equally for its ruthless politics and its patronage of the arts and science, a combination that gave it a central role in birthing the Renaissance and the modern world. The book’s central argument is that the Medicis drove success by bringing together ground-breaking and innovative thinkers from a host of disciplines, and that success in today’s knowledge economy is also driven the multidisciplinary interactions of experts from different fields and areas of expertise. In essence, the collision of ideas, knowledge and insights from disparate areas of interest generates new concepts and new technologies that drive new entrepreneurial opportunities.

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