Have the seeds of change been sown in Michigan? Time will tell, but it appears that a new approach to economic development is emerging.
The traditional approach has focused on “hunting,” primarily for new industries to locate in Michigan. The effort has been to attract new, larger employers to the state through various incentives. The results have been moderately successful due to the intense competition with other states.
The new approach calls for cultivating the “economic garden” of companies which already exist in a community. Economic gardening focuses on creating a nurturing environment (just as one would do with a vegetable garden) for the growth of existing business enterprises.
Economic gardening concentrates on second stage companies (between 10 – 99 employees) that provide the greatest potential for growth. As an economic development strategy, the three basic elements of economic gardening are:
Economic gardening as placemaking, discussed in another recent CWA blog posting, go hand-in-hand. In combination, they offer communities with the best options for growing their assets.