Thursday, April 25, 2013

Economic Development Officer? If we don't know what, will we get it?

Have you ever tried to measure something without any form of measuring scale?  It’s hard, and if you are the person who's being measured it’s even harder.  That is the challenge that the Clarenville Town Council is facing as it contemplates hiring yet another Economic Development (ED) Officer.    (Clarenville has now had three ED officers in as many years)

This issue was contemplated at this past Tuesday evening’s Council meeting.  The question came up – What exactly have these Economic Development Officers done?    Rightfully, this provocative question prompted considerable debate around the Council table – unfortunately that question was never really answered (the fact that the was no articulate answer to this question with three years of experience for the position indicates that there is almost certainly a management issue at play here).  That said, I would argue that Council is looking for the answer to the wrong question. (You can listen to the April 23 meeting on the Packet's website - follow the links)

The better question would/should have been:  What does Council want an Economic Development Officer to do? Specifically; what key goals need to be reached?, when should these goals to been met?,  and ultimately how would success/progress be measured and by whom?  Based on the discussion at the meeting, I’m left with the impression that Council, as a whole, is sure of what they want - and without knowing that, they certainly will not get it. 

For the sake of the Town and for the sake of the person in the position of Economic Development Officer, I would like to see a clearer and more specific set of measurable and attainable goals for the ED position agreed upon – by Council.  This then needs to be clearly communicated and progress regularly measured.   Without a clearer mandate we will inevitably get the same result with a different person – no matter how good he or she is.
I believe that the position is an important role and could make a valuable contribution to our town.   I would prefer however that the position to be called a "Community Development" officer and have its focus on attracting and retaining people to the town .  Face it, we are not going to "attract" large industrial businesses to this town - they will come if there is an economic case for doing so and they are normally the ones that have the capacity to determine that.   What we do need to do however is to make this town as attractive a place to live as possible for the people who live here and for the people who will consider living here.  This is done with better planning, better communication and better facilities.  People will drive the growth and prosperity of this service based community and making this community more attractive (what I refer to as "stickiness") will retain and attract good people.  

Regardless of the name on the position, without a clearly articulated role for the position and more clearly articulated and measurable goals for the person filling it, the person in that position will be crippled. That won’t benefit anyone.
The fact that position has become a revolving door is a strong indicator that the person in the role of ED officer is not necessarily the problem.  Most likely the problem lies in the definition and measurement of the job and that is set by Council – it is an issue Council needs to address before they hire #4.   

1 comment:

  1. The economical situation in the country is difficult. The country doesn’t develop. People have to search for solution of their financial problems. Some people take no credit loans round the clock. These loans don’t improve the economy of the country and doesn’t develop it but they help simple people to buy necessary things.