Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Growing our own money tree

It used to be that the primary method of economic development was to buy jobs, essentially convincing companies with existing jobs elsewhere to move them here in exchange for financial incentives.  And would still be true but for the decreasing state resources to fund those incentives.  

Wait a minute!  Ladies and gentlemen, we may have just found the upside of the recession.  We're gonna - finally - have to rethink our approach to job creation. So, if we can't afford to buy jobs anymore (a practice that has never demonstrated consistently clear return on the investment), what's next?  Glad you asked.  Economic gardening, that's what.  

According to the Kauffman Foundation, "economic gardening is an economic development model that embraces the fundamental idea that entrepreneurs drive economies. The model seeks to create jobs by supporting existing companies in a community."

Revolutionary?  Hardly.  But apparently it's a difficult concept for the State of Florida to grasp as Orlando Sentinel business columnist Beth Kassab noted in her column yesterday.  Despite the fact that economic gardening is showing promise even in its very early stages, the state support for the approach is unclear.  

According to Kassab, "... the state's red tape kept this "emergency" program from getting started until just about five months ago. If lawmakers and Gov. Charlie Crist are serious about helping Florida businesses then they should give this program more time and money before they pull the plug." 

Amen, Amen, Amen.  And it's worth noting as well that the economic gardening concept was pioneered in 1987 in Littleton, CO ... when the state was in a recession. 

You know what else would help with an economic gardening effort?  

A garden designed just for entrepreneurs.  

A garden with all the components to help smart companies get bigger.

A garden established with the purpose of helping to grow jobs.

A garden called Creative Village Orlando.  

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