An interview with Jessica Erickson, President and CEO of LEDP
Note: The following is the output of transcribing from a video recording. Although the transcription, which was done with software, is largely accurate, in some cases it is incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or [software] transcription errors. It is posted as an aid to understanding the proceedings at the meeting, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.
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Tim Waters 0:12
Welcome to the backstory on Longmont Economic Development Partnership or L E. DEP. Tim waters and as a volunteer for Longmont public media. I host the backstory which is an opportunity for you, Longmont to learn a bit more about what goes on in the city stories that you might read about in the newspaper or see something on social media, but might have more questions or would be would benefit from more information on what what is the backstory on whatever it is you’re reading about. And today, there’s an opportunity to go deeper to learn more about long lines Economic Development Partnership, what that means, who’s involved, why does it exist? What is it produced? And we’re gonna have a chance to learn that from JESSICA ERICKSON, who is the president and CEO right title Jessica, of long months Economic Development Partnership. So Jessica, is for those of you who have might watch the backstory, you know, Jessica is not a newcomer to the backstory. She’s been featured on a number of these, most recently, and probably the most significant is the decision by Costco to expand their operations to locate in Longmont that is still in process for those who who care about this. And I get those questions. I’m guessing you do from time to time, Jessica? What’s the status of Costco? It’s still it’s still underway. And we’re anticipating that it will keep moving forward. Maybe by maybe by December of 2023, we’ll do Christmas shopping and Costco we’ll see. So, Jessica, you have a rich deep background and economic development. You may want to talk about that. And I’ll give you a chance to talk about just what kind of you bring to the job. And then like, move right into why do we do it this way? Why do we have a group like LDP in Longmont that does economic development work while in some other cities that might be done by the city or you know, city staff members, but start with a little bit about you? And then the why in the background on this?
Unknown Speaker 2:17
Sure. And you froze a little bit on me there for a second. So I didn’t hear all of what you said. So I’m gonna give it a shot. And if I missed anything, let me know.
Tim Waters 2:26
Whoever views this, they won’t mind me freezing. Okay. They might mind it if you freeze
Unknown Speaker 2:32
so Okay. Sounds good. Um, yep. So as you said, JESSICA ERICKSON, President and CEO of Walmart, Economic Development Partnership, I’ve been with this organization for going on seven years. So it’ll be seven years in February of next year. So I started here in early 2015. Most recently, before that, I had done economic development at the state level and the state office of economic development and international trade for a couple of years. And I’ve also done economic development locally. Both was a public private partnership organization in Broomfield and then within the halls of city government in the city of Thornton. So I have the full range of experience, both from local all the way up to state level economic development, as well as public private and public private partnership economic development. So I bring that full range of perspective to how we approach economic development in Longmont and at Longmont Economic Development Partnership. I think the other question was, why do we do it this way, here in Longmont, and so the long run Economic Development Partnership has been around for over 40 years now, or exactly 40 years now, as an organization in some form or fashion. Some of your viewers might recall the Economic Development Association of Longmont that then became the Longmont area Economic Council. And then in 2016, we became the long one Economic Development Partnership, which is a very intentional transition. And part of how I ended up here was that in 2014, ish, the city of Longmont and then one one area Economic Council, took on a city wide market assessment for opportunity related to economic development and really kind of where we sat as a community in terms of the strength of the community and our competitiveness to pursue and win economic development, deals business development investment for our community. And one of the things they looked at was the structure of how we did economic development here in Longmont. The end result of that was the original advanced Longmont strategy that really called for a whole new level of collaboration related to economic development that hadn’t existed here in Longmont before, and certainly didn’t really exist in a lot of other places either. I was part of the appeal for me, in fact, to
Unknown Speaker 4:55
to come here and lead this organization And so that new level of collaboration really required, you know, public sector, private sector, nonprofit education, and just a variety of perspectives to bring to and contribution of a variety of expertise to bring to our approach to economic development. And that really lended itself to more of a public private partnership model, as opposed to economic development from inside the halls of city government model. Previous to that the economic council did exist, there was also an internal economic development department at the city each had different roles and responsibilities. My understanding, not totally clear, though, there was definitely some some gray area in terms of who did what, when, which really resulted in some loss of opportunity for the city of Longmont. So that’s part of it. But then, you know, more pragmatically, it’s just a much more cost effective approach for the city to economic development. So we have a contract with the city of Longmont that we seek to renew on an annual basis to provide that economic development service to the city. It’s about $350,000 per year that were funded by the city to do economic development work. And we raised the rest of our funding from the private sector, as well as a couple of other public sector sources, which really results in for the city’s $350,000 annual investment in economic development, they get a 750 to $800,000 a year economic development program. So there’s cost effectiveness, there’s also an accountability piece to it too. So we really look to those who are going to benefit most from the work of economic development, to underwrite the work of economic development. And certainly there’s case to be made for that direct fiscal impact to the city if we’re successful. So benefit to the city, which is why we really look to the city to be one of the larger investors in economic development. But then the private sector is absolutely going to benefit from a successful economic development program. And so we think they’re also accountable to help fund that program, or as I said, underwrite that program. And then just general efficiency of communication when we talk to site selection consultants, corporate real estate executives, corporate decision makers, having that one stop shop, one place to go that’s outside the halls of city government, which can be bogged down, sometimes in red tape and bureaucracy, having that place to go when they’re considering location for expansion or investment or relocation, is of benefit and keeps us on more lists longer from the perspective of kind of that traditional economic development deal making peace.
Tim Waters 7:44
So I want to circle back before we’re finished, I’m going to want to come back to kind of a summarizing this interview some of the ideas that underlie that public private partnership, but I’ll leave that to a kind of a closing question, just to how typical, it sounds like leverage is a big part of this, right? You, you’re using a city investment, and you’re leveraging that into a multiple of what the city puts into this, because of the shared interest? How typical or atypical is long, much approach compared to other municipalities like ours, 100,000 people?
Unknown Speaker 8:17
Sure. So I will answer that. But I think you brought up a really good point that I don’t want to lose about leverage. So when we go out to raise private sector dollars for economic development, generally, the first question that were asked is, are you supported by the local government, because private sector wants to put their dollars where they know they’re going to be able to have an impact. And they know that they can’t have an impact in a community, if what they’re investing in isn’t aligned with the goals and the vision of the city itself and isn’t, doesn’t have a collaborative cooperative partnership with the city itself? So we’re absolutely leveraging that private sector investment to to pursue or public sector investment to pursue private sector investment. And so the how typical is this model for economic development, the International Economic Development Council does a salary survey every two years. And one of the questions they ask us is the nature of our organization? Is it public? Is it private? Is it public, private, and the most recent, one of those says that about a third of all economic development organizations across the state, whether they be regional or state, regional or local, have that public private, nonprofit model at about 100,000 population, and then as you get larger and get more regional and, and larger than that is where you start to see it be even more common than that, although the data was a little hard to parse through. So I’m not going to give exact numbers but it does become more common as you get into larger communities and especially as you’re looking at taking a more regional approach to economic development. Although I will say so long like EDP, in a lot of places, especially across Colorado is kind Have seen as a model for how that works. And so we get a lot of folks from across the state and sometimes across the country reaching out to us to, you know, kind of ask how we do it and, and how to create an organization. And we’re starting to get that outreach from smaller and smaller communities. So in our own backyard, the city of Erie and has established a public private economic development organization, we’re talking to Steamboat Springs, providing resource to them to kind of get technical assistance to them in terms of how to create a public private partnership. Organization, I think just more and more communities are seeing the benefit of bringing all parties to the table to achieve our economic development goals and objectives. So relatively common, becoming more common, I would say. And then I mentioned that it’s very common when you’re looking at a more regional approach to economic development. So regional organizations like county wide organizations, or northern Colorado region, Metro, Denver, regional kind of economic development organizations, oftentimes our public private or solely private sector funded organizations. And the reality is, is that as of right now, Boulder County does not have a boulder county regional organization. So it’s really us and the boulder Economic Council, also a public private model for economic development that kind of sit at the top of that, and are providing most of the resource and most of the kind of expertise towards economic development across the region. So in the absence of a larger regional economic development, presence, makes this model for us as a community that much more valuable.
Tim Waters 11:49
So so clearly skin in the game on the part of your partners is important in both both in terms of what it means to potential corporations or decisions by by entities to relocate, or to locate or to expand a long line. And that the model itself isn’t so much of a break the mold, but but execution of the model. And I want to come back to execution as a differentiator before we’re finished with this as well, because I do think, I think we’re in an era where differentiation is going to matter. And in what it takes a differentiate between one and another, can you capture just in a sentence or two LED PS mission?
Unknown Speaker 12:30
Sure. So Our stated mission is, is leading a collaborative approach to economic development. Our vision for that is this collective impact model that we’ve taken, which really is about aligning organizations and individuals across the community across around a shared agenda to achieve our economic development goals and visions, which are really today, much less growth oriented, and more prosperity and inclusion oriented. So we look at how does the growth that we pursue as an economic development organization, become shared across our entire community or benefit our entire community from a prosperity and inclusion perspective? And so we’re really looking to achieve and I start, I’m sorry, I know you said one or two sentences, but does it equal access for everyone in our community to be able to participate in the economy that we’re developing or building as a community?
Tim Waters 13:33
You have to be Carrie, you’re gonna start to be accused of answering questions like I do. With way more words. So So just in a word, or in a, in a phrase, your mission isn’t growth for growth’s sake?
Unknown Speaker 13:48
It is not No, I mean, that’s, that’s a very short sighted vision. And I get where that comes from, because I think there was a day and age, and I worked for some of those folks that really take that kind of approach to economic development. But really, I don’t know of an economic development organization or practitioner that takes that approach, nor do any of our partners or investors see that as a good business model for themselves or for this community as a whole. It would be a really short sighted, like I said, approach to how we ensure long term again, prosperity and resiliency for our local economy. So let’s
Tim Waters 14:25
unpack this a little bit. The if the end, the part of the end game is prosperity for the community, you get there through goals and objectives and strategies, right? So just unpack a little bit about goals, objectives, strategies, take what however you want to emphasize each of those strategies is the means to get to the end obviously have goals and what that what’s different here than than others might see and you can kind of unpack some of those ideas of prosperity and collective impact. Could you do that?
Unknown Speaker 15:01
Sure. So I think when we talk about an economy that works for all and is accessible to all and creates opportunity to build wealth and progress in in whatever way somebody would want to economically, we really look at a few key focus areas within our advanced on what 2.0 strategies. So tech, certainly talent is a big piece of what we’re looking at how do we attract and retain the talent that’s needed to support the industry base that we have, as well as to encourage additional industry investment in our community. And so that’s both attracting new talent into our community from across the country. But it’s also working with our partners at St. Green Valley School District, Front Range Community College, some of the sector partnerships regionally, and our workforce development system to create what we call talent pipeline. So how do we get our kids here locally, from K through 12, into whatever the next step looks like for them, to be able to, again, achieve a career pathway and wealth building opportunity within our community so that they don’t have to go elsewhere? To achieve that. So that’s our focus on talent industry is kind of the core of of economic development. So the outcome, which is creating more jobs and generate or increasing the tax base through business investment, and sales tax, and so that’s going out and finding new opportunities. But really, a lot of our work is right here locally supporting our existing industry bases ability to stay here, be successful here and continue to expand and grow here and create new jobs here, embracing placemaking as an economic development strategy, which really ties into I mean, they all tie together, right? So that really ties into talent, and where do people want to be to live and work and play it and spend their dollars? connectivity, transportation connectivity, again, ties into everything else? So how do people get from where they live to where they work, whether it be here locally, or regionally? And then and then just really impact? So how are we approaching? How is the city approaching? And how can we contribute to the city’s approach to policymaking that has that same outcome and end result that we’ve all determined through the development of advanced on web 2.0. And our collective impact work is our vision for the future of our community.
Tim Waters 17:35
So how, how different the goals that you just described and the strategy, how different are those from what goals the city would adopt?
Unknown Speaker 17:44
They are the city’s goals, frankly. So we the very first step that we took when we updated our strategic plan from advance long, but to advance on what 2.0 is, we painstakingly assessed every single plan documented plan that we could find in the city, from the original advanced online plan from Envision longwan, the city council work plan, all of the sub area plans, the downtown master plan, the transportation plan, the Main Street corridor plan, we literally created a table of all of those and put all of the goals and objectives of all of those plans side by side and identified where they aligned, which meant we were most likely to have the greatest amount of success from a collective impact framework perspective, so bringing variety of perspectives and expertise together to pursue those objectives. So the objectives and goals of advance on web 2.0 Therefore our goals and objectives as an organization, don’t they align with not only do they align with not only do they complement, but they are the goals of the city of Longmont the stated goals of the city of Longmont, which then transfers into our contract with the city of Longmont to So the goals and objectives in our contract with the city of Longmont are the same as those in advance on what to point out are the same as those where there was alignment and all of those other plans and strategies.
Tim Waters 19:03
Awesome. So when all that comes together, you’ve got a prospect, a lead, if you will, what’s the kind of inside baseball that you know that most people don’t get a chance to see, as it unfold? You go into an executive session with city council? You know, that’s kind of a black box for folks as it should be, because those are all, you know, confidential meetings. But what happens when you got to lead when all that rolls up into a potential success? What is it like right, what do you what do you bring and what’s the potential outcome?
Unknown Speaker 19:38
Yeah, so it’s not one size fits all. So I’ll I’ll encapsulate that into that as much as possible. We’re receiving opportunities leads for opportunities from a variety of different sources, whether it’s, you know, a response to something that we’ve put out into the world from a marketing campaign perspective or a lead from that we’re participating on with the state office. Economic Development, the Regional Economic Development Corporation or somebody contacted us directly, or a lot of times, it’s a business that’s already here that’s looking at where they can continue to expand and grow. So all of those different paths have their own nuances. But generally speaking, when we connect with a leader, somebody that’s interested in expanding or relocating their business here to Longmont, the first question that we have for them is what are their key drivers in terms of how they’re going to decide on the best location from them? I think not surprisingly, in a lot of cases, it’s talent, its operating costs, it’s in some cases, transportation, access, utilities, utility, infrastructure, education, all of the things we think we do really well here in long one. So that’s the first thing is that we’re taking whatever that their individual key decision drivers are and putting together for them a customized package of we heard you said that you’re looking for this, and this is why we think Walmart is the best place for you relative to those things. And so that looks like just a package of information that anything from you know, we get down to what are your what are the actual occupation codes of hiring that you’re trying to do? Wherever you locate so that we can do some labor force analysis. So we can show the strength of the labor infrastructure here in Longmont to again, those operating costs and those utilities costs, if possible in comparison to communities we might be competing with. Oh, sorry, I thought you’re cutting me off.
Tim Waters 21:33
And I just said something sharp on my computer screen. And I was like, well, there
Unknown Speaker 21:36
is to end up on a list of communities that that company is seriously considering for that expansion or relocation project. In some cases, we find out back from them that yes, they think Longmont is a great place for them. They also think city B is a great place for them and city B maybe offering incentives or may have some other competitive advantage over us from a cost perspective, at which point in time we’ll start the conversation about incentives that may be available to them. Here in the city of Longmont potentially with the state of Colorado. With the city of Longmont incentives. We have our incentives are codified in terms of what we can offer. So we have a fee rebate and a business personal property tax rebate program. We also have you know some locations within the enterprise zone which creates an incentive for for folks, but with those Longmont incentives, local Longmont incentives, before we’re offering those incentives to accompany we meet with City Council in Executive Session, give them the the the scope of the project, the potential fiscal and economic benefits of the project to the community, and then get direction from City Council as to whether or not and to what extent to negotiate those incentives. And then we’ll go and make that proposal to the company as part of their one part of their consideration of Longmont as a place that they want to grow into. I will say that we on average, work with 50 or so prospect leads throughout the year. I think, you know, if we do two to four executive sessions throughout the year for projects, so in most cases, we’re competing on the the value proposition of the community and not the addition of incentives. On a rare occasion where we don’t have a competitive advantage over a community that we’re competing with, or another community has offered incentives. And we’re trying to compete with that. And the scope and scale of the project in terms of economic and fiscal impact makes it a good investment with a significant ROI for our city. That’s when we’re leveraging those incentive programs that again, are codified with within city code.
Tim Waters 24:02
So so you don’t go into an executive session and walk out with a big check. No, that’s your handle Corporation. That’s not how it works.
Unknown Speaker 24:10
Absolutely not. And in fact, Colorado and all of the municipalities they’re in are notoriously not incentive driven states when it comes to economic development. And all incentives both at the state and local level, in Colorado and in every municipality in Colorado are performance based. And so no check gets written until an investment is made. In some cases, in case of a fee rebate check can be written before the jobs are created. But if the jobs aren’t then later created, there’s a clawback provision that says that we get those dollars back that the company has agreed to if they don’t achieve that those job creation metrics.
Tim Waters 24:52
Thanks. Yeah, I’m guessing you don’t do all this by yourself. You have some other people with you both staff and board? Who makes up LLDP? What should people know? They still see your face. They’ll hear your name. Who’s on your board who works with you to put all this together?
Unknown Speaker 25:11
Yeah, so first of all, say staff I have an incredible small but mighty team here, there are four of us doing the work of Longmont economic development partnerships. So I’m really focused on of course, as CEO, the high level strategy and finances of the organization as well as based on my experience, kind of that primary industry prospect development and some of the kind of advocacy work that we do as an organization. And then I have somebody else that’s really focused on our existing industry base all the way from our very early stage startup businesses to our larger corporations and ensuring their ability to succeed and grow here. And then I have somebody who is specifically focused on advanced on what 2.0 is serving as the backbone to that collective impact framework that we use to implement that strategy. And then my board of directors is representative of we have about 100 private sector contributors to the organization on an annual basis and my board of directors is elected from those investors. And so it’s a really good cross section of industry. And so therefore expertise, looking at how we approach economic development and bringing those that kind of wisdom and expertise that they bring from the private sector into what we do so we have both of the hospitals here in Longmont are represented represented on my board of directors on my United Hospital and UC Health. We have financiers from Adams Bank and Trust and now High Plains bank as well as Cornerstone home lending. On the home lending side, we have builders, some construction, and we have primary industry representatives from left hand Brewing Company and missing one from EnerSys from h2 manufacturing solutions. So again, a really diverse perspective of those who will benefit from the work of our organization, certainly, but also have a diverse skill set to contribute to the work that we’re doing, because there are just four of us here on staff.
Tim Waters 27:19
That sounds like a group of people who are seriously and deeply invested in Longmont. Absolutely. So how do you want both the city staff, the city council and residents, but in particular, the city to to view you and your board? And how do you view the city? Both council members and staff members?
Unknown Speaker 27:45
I’m sure so we view the city as a partner? Certainly we are, we do have a contractual relationship with the city in terms of the service that we provide. But we really view the city as a partner. In the work that we do. There are a lot of analogies, I’m super guilty of using a ton of different analogies around this. So I was deciding which one I would use today. And one of my favorites is that a former boss of mine kind of taught me is really when you think about economic development, and then kind of city government. The difference between business development and product development, right. So if you consider your economic development practitioner organization, as your business development representative, the person that’s going out there and generating business and revenue for the organization, and then your city government is product development. So I as business development have most contact with the customer, right, so I have the best sense of what they need, and what would sell them on our product, which is our community. So we take the approach of taking that information that we’re gaining from listening to our customer to providing information and suggestions and recommendations to the city, whether it be city staff or city council for how we can improve the product so we can do a better job of selling it. So it really is about bringing a voice to the table to improve the product of our city strengthen our competitive position relative to economic development.
Tim Waters 29:24
So let me just ask you, if you could just frame this real quickly. The difference between what you and your board does in what city council does?
Unknown Speaker 29:33
Absolutely. So my my board and I like I said we’re, we’re kind of in in the weeds. We’re in the community. We’re listening to engaging with having constant conversation with our primary industry base with our partner organizations with those who are charged with developing talent within our community. And a lot of what we’re hearing is how this community could do better, to make them more successful and more likely to continue to invest in our community. And so we take that to make recommendations to, or suggestions to city staff for, you know, this is what we’re hearing this is how we can improve as a community to improve our ability to achieve our goals and visions. And then, and then from there, you know, if this city council makes policy, city staff executes that policy, what we really want to be is a source for for information, and again, recommendations and suggestions that we’re hearing from the streets, on, on on some of the policies, processes and programs that could improve our ability to be successful as economic developers,
Tim Waters 30:47
the City Council makes policy, you make recommendations, or you and your board make recommendations, when you say, when you see your partner, the city headed in a direction that you’re not certain is going to be productive in terms of what we’re trying to do or what the city or you’re trying to do with the city in terms of economic development. What’s your approach, to say to your partner? Wait a minute. We think this is not going to be helpful.
Unknown Speaker 31:14
Yeah, so we try to be as proactive and productive as possible. Like I said, it’s not me, it’s not Jessica at longline EDP that saying, hey, that might not be in the best interest of achieving our economic development objectives. It’s, I’ve said to our, you know, the prospects that we’re working with, or our existing industry base or our partners, the city is looking at doing this, and get feedback that says, you know, if the city does this, then I might not do the thing that the city wants me to do, whether it’s grow my business, build houses, whatever it might be. And so sharing that information with the city, but not just saying, you know, we’ve heard that that may not be the best idea in terms of achieving our goals and objectives or economic development goals and objectives. But also, here were some suggestions that we received for what might work better for benefit of both the public sector and the private sector in achieving those goals and objectives.
Tim Waters 32:11
So it’s not a caution without a recommendation or a proposal or some ideas.
Unknown Speaker 32:16
Absolutely not. And yeah, and I mean, I think very rarely, if ever have we gone to whether it be to city council are two city staff and just obstinately said, we oppose this. Usually, in every case that I can think of it’s been either, that’s a good idea. But we also think that this would contribute to achieving our goals and objectives as an add on to that, or we’ve heard that that might not be conducive to what we’re trying to achieve, but maybe a little tweak here or there, and we could really make it work for everybody.
Tim Waters 32:52
Alright. The all of it rolls up into both successes and disappointments. I’m guessing you don’t win every time. But you weren’t enough. To mark some successes, what do you what are the big learnings? What do you what do you learn from both your successes and the disappointments in this whole process? And then I’m going to the next question is going to be about anticipating the future. But just looking backwards. What have you learned from both the wins and the losses? Sure.
Unknown Speaker 33:21
So I think we’ve been from a traditional economic development perspective certainly incredibly successful in recent years here in Longmont, whether it be Smuckers or Costco, our recent announcement about light deck and their manufacturing facility. As you said before, Longmont EDP, I just get Eric’s and didn’t do those things by myself. There’s always collaboration, and I always get, you know, quick response and all hands on deck response from the city when we’re pursuing those opportunities. And I think that has absolutely been what’s made us successful. I think, you know, we’ve seen and I’ve been a part of a situation where the economic development organization and the city staffing Council were almost adversarial, which doesn’t work for anyone. Right? So the fact that we have been anything but that to almost an extreme, and part of why other organizations kind of look to us to how you do that, is that we’ve done a really good job just working together with the end in mind and bringing all of our resources to the table from staff and from my organization to get those wins. In some cases where we weren’t maybe even on the list at the start of a project, search for a location, and then even taking that to achieving things for our community like the North Metro enterprise zone designation, opportunity zone designation, and some of the other new programs and tools and resources that we’ve been able to bring to our community in the last few years. Again, not things that I did, or that long by EDP did, but that we did, collectively and I think As a result made our kind of application our pursuit for those programs and resources that much more compelling. Because we weren’t competing with each other, we weren’t making things more difficult for the decision makers for those programs by kind of coming from all over the place or not having all the resources available. So I think disappointments. I think, for me, what’s been disappointment, and I think just an ongoing learning process for everyone is that, that our approach to as we’ve talked about bringing some of those suggestions and recommendations as an organization, to the city council, we feel like we’re making those suggestions in the best interest of the community. And while there are individual organizations or private sector entities that may ultimately long term benefit from some of those things, we don’t take the approach of, you know, we’re going to support this because it’s going to put more money in somebody’s pocket. In fact, if anybody even suggests that’s a reason why they want to be a part of our organization, we just don’t engage. And so really, everybody that’s part of my board, part of my leadership council have been participating on the advanced home What 2.0 working groups, our new prosper Longmont coalition, is really coming at their investment and engagement in the organization with the best interest of the community in mind. And I think sometimes we don’t agree on the how, even internally, much less between kind of some of our city leadership and some members of our organization, but everybody has bought into and that’s part of the model of collective impact. Everybody has bought into the idea of a shared vision and a common agenda for what we want to see our community be now and in the future. And again, if they haven’t, we just don’t engage with them. And so I think it’s disappointing, when I hear that there’s a perception that it’s anything but that coming from our organization, and so certainly something that, you know, we’ve talked about internally, we have to do a better job of telling our story and telling that to people. So thank you for this opportunity to do that. But then we also hope that our city leaders are listening, and, and taking that at face value. And that’s what what we say,
Tim Waters 37:27
well, what this is all about storytelling. So hopefully, hopefully, the story will be heard by folks. So I’ve got two more questions. And I want to kind of wrap this all up kind of going back to where we started with a couple of questions here at the end. And and one is that the model itself is not a break the mold model, as you said, there were a third of the, you know, municipalities that are size, who take this public private ship, public private partnership approach. And that execution likely matters. So we were all anticipating a post pandemic era. We hope it gets here soon. We would hope we would be there now. But we’re not quite there. Yet. What will be the differentiator for us for Longmont as a municipality, that that is in the interest of this community to continue to prosper, not just grow right, but prosper in ways that serve broadly the community? What differentiates Longmont from other communities going forward in your mind?
Unknown Speaker 38:29
Yes, that’s a good question. I mean, I think there’s an element of it that’s, you know, post pandemic world and some of the changes that we’ve seen our transformations that we’ve seen, generally globally, as a result of the pandemic, I think some of those things being an acceleration of things that were inevitable anyway, but then we’re also facing in Longmont finite opportunity to get it right, from a capacity perspective, whether that be from real estate capacity or population capacity. Utility capacity. So I think, related to both and in the interest of kind of the idea of equitable economic development, ensuring that our future growth benefits everyone in our community, that we need to become even more strategic about how we’re making investments as a community in in projects. So not not just looking at how many jobs is this company going to create? And how much is their investment? But what are there opportunities for workers at all skill levels? And what are their on the job training and work based learning opportunities? What kind of wages are they paying from the bottom production level wages all the way up? And what is the disparity between the top and the bottom and so really ensuring that companies that we’re investing in through incentives are aligned with our values and aligned with our long term vision as an equitable community that creates prosperity for everyone. Like all of our businesses are going to have to adapt to innovative new business practices, technology, and a very different labor market. I think there are some things that about today’s labor market that aren’t going to change. And so how do we bring resource to businesses, especially small, locally owned businesses to be able to effectively adapt to those public private partnerships? I know, in some places, it’s kind of a not a lot of people like to think of the private sector, you know, as contributing meaningfully to things like equity and prosperity within a community. But our experience has been the exact opposite. And the idea behind collective impact is addressing challenges that no individual organization can address on their own, but bringing a collective to them. And there are a lot of resources, human financial, and otherwise within the private sector that can be brought to bear for those things. And then think prioritizing people, just I think we’ve learned that lesson and really, really hard way as a result of that pandemic. But I think that was one of those accelerating inevitable kind of situations. So how are we incorporating, investing in people in our community in terms of skills development, career pathway development, all the way from, you know, K through 12, early childhood and early childhood education and care? How are we investing in the residents of Longmont from the day they’re born all the way up through there, kind of cradle to grave lifetime here within our community?
Tim Waters 41:48
So some of what I just heard, I know is a reflection of and this will be my last question, and then you may have last comments. There’s an underlying construct, or organizing framework, I’m not certain the way you would think about this the right language of of a concept to construct called New localism. So public private partnerships, some of what you refer to a reference in terms of the private sector caring about equity, and and prosperity broadly in the community, as kind of fundamental to how to what makes this work, any little highlights you want to share, or some of the organizing principles that underlie in the construct of new localism that would help people understand there’s a deeper theoretical, philosophical and evidence based framework that supports this work.
Unknown Speaker 42:47
Yeah, so new localism is a really, again, I don’t know the right terminology, either philosophy or ideology behind how we approach economic development, from the left through the lenses of prosperity, inclusion and equity. And really, a recognition that responsibility for addressing some of those challenges is being pushed down to cities and to regions, because there’s not resource for or there are structural structural limitations to the federal or state governments being able to address those challenges on our behalf. And so New localism is really about solving those problems, kind of from the bottom up so from our local community, rather than top down and engaging networks of institutions and leaders and and thought leaders and the brightest minds where we can find them to addressing those challenges, rather than just looking to the public sector alone, to address those challenges, and I think the biggest example of that today, is workforce, housing, attainable housing, there are a variety of different terms being used relative to that issue. And we hear oftentimes, you know, we’re not going to build our way out of this issue. We’re not going to policy our way out or this issue either it’s going to take public policy is going to take building, it’s going to take creative and innovative approaches. There’s no amount of policy that you can create that’s going to address the systemic inequities in home lending, as agreed by our financial institutions here in long one. So if there’s not an opportunity for those financial institutions to engage in the conversation and be a part of the solution, again, there’s no number of homes that you can build or policies that you can create that are going to address that challenge and that challenge is a piece of the bigger issue at hand in terms of ensuring that everyone in Longmont has access to equity building home ownership, equitable access to equity building homeownership within our community.
Tim Waters 44:51
So we’ve been hearing for decades about thinking globally and acting locally. And what I think I heard you just say is that We’re at a time and new localism is the way to operationalize that whole idea of thinking globally and acting locally in the interest of prosperity, equity, social justice, you know what we need to create together as a community. So, listen, I very much appreciate your availability for this episode of The backstory, any final thoughts you want to share?
Unknown Speaker 45:23
I think I’ve said enough. Thank you.
Tim Waters 45:26
Well, well, hopefully, hopefully, we haven’t gone on so long that no one will listen, but I think it’s an important story. So thank you for this time. Thank you more importantly for the great work you do on behalf of the community. You could be doing this a lot of places I know the fact that you do it in Longmont on behalf of Longmont. I appreciate I know there are many many others in Longmont who do as well. So long monitors. This is the backstory on Longmont Economic Development Partnership. Stay tuned we will we’ll come back at you with more stories more backstories on things you’d like to learn about long month that you’re not going to read in the headlines of the times call or belong my leader or other social media. Thanks we’ll see you next time. Thanks Tim.