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View from the Cordillera

A Commentary on Achieving Excellence in Local Government
Read by Municipal Leaders on 4 Continents
Published by the Cordillera Institute

Growing a Robust Economy
How to Maximize Economic Growth (Vol. 1, Issue 40)
Every place which has a local government also has an economy.  Most municipalities, whether acting alone or with others, have programs which are intended to grow their local economies.  With all this effort focussed on economic growth, we should understand what makes that happen.  Some say it's more businesses.  Some say more jobs.  Some say more consumer spending.  Some say higher wages.  Some say more sales of products or services.  Some say more investment.  Some say more infrastructure.  Some say more government spending.  All but the last of these are signs that an economy is growing.  But, these are effects, not the cause.  So, what is it that drives economies?  It's profit — 1 of the most misunderstood and maligned concepts in all of public policy.  But, profit is not a 4-letter word.  Well, what is it then?  In this issue, we see why nearly every one of us, not just those in business, need to earn a profit.  Once earned, how is it distributed?  And, how much is too much?  With these questions answered, we see how local governments can maximize economic growth and whether government can prime the pump.

Extending Prosperity to Our Rural Communities (part 1) (Vol. 2, Issue 22)
In this issue, we focus on understanding the challenges that our rural communities face in their pursuit of opportunity.  Why has the loss of resource-based employment been so hard to replace?  We examine the 2 major causes of limited opportunity in most rural and small urban communities.  How successful have senior-government programs been in meeting these challenges?  We see who wins — and who loses — when many of these programs are tried.  Next, we look at the results of these programs.  Special attention is given to programs which offer loans on favorable terms.  Then, we turn our attention to the impacts of certain local-government actions.  Sadly, certain actions of local governments often contribute to the problem.  Having said that, it is recognized that these actions of local governments are usually mandated by senior government.  Yet, the public may blame you if they are unaware that you are being forced to act as the delivery agents of senior-government programs.  Armed with an understanding of the challenges and the results of attempts to overcome them, we will be ready to evaluate the alternative solutions proposed in the next issue.

Extending Prosperity to Our Rural Communities (part 2) (Vol. 2, Issue 23)
This issue is part 2 of our 2-part series on creating prosperity in our rural communities.  In the previous issue, we focussed on understanding the challenges that rural communities face and why most attempts to meet them have not succeeded.  In this issue, we turn our attention to solutions which have succeeded.  But, before looking at specifics, we define the fundamental principle — creating economic opportunity.  When that opportunity evades us, we have 5 choices.  One of those choices is government intervention.  This can take 4 different forms.  Having covered the 1st 2 last week, we assess the effectiveness of the other 2.  Then, we turn to what has worked in the past and what is working today in the field of agriculture.  Next, we see what is working in other fields.  With these examples of what innovators can do, we are ready to consider what your municipality can do.  How can you overcome distance?  How can you overcome a lack of capital?  And, finally, what should you request from senior government?  We've all witnessed the effects of policies and programs and initiatives which don't work.  It's time to try those which do.  Your community likely contains its share of business plans — on shelves, in drawers, in heads.  Innovators would like nothing better than to dust off these plans and turn them into reality.  That is, if governments do their part.  Start with yours.

Making the Most of Our Economic-Development Dollars (Vol. 3, Issue 39)
When the economy takes a turn for the worse, it may seem prudent to cut back on ED (economic-development) initiatives.  After all, who wants to start a new business or open a new store or office or plant when the major media are telling us, at every opportunity, that the economy is in the tank?  Well, as those ED veterans of previous recessions will confirm, new businesses are launched and successful firms do expand — even when the economy is contracting.  The initial question is: where should our ED budgets be invested and how should they be funded?  Then comes the setting of priorities.  Should we be chasing big prospects?  What about expansions of existing businesses?  What about home-based businesses?  How about businesses in your community that are struggling?  What types of assistance should we be offering?  In this issue, we examine 5 winning strategies for lending a hand to our local business communities — even if yours is just a few shops at the crossroads or a variety of small enterprises scattered along your side roads.

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