May 23, 2011
Steve Sewell, EDPA Executive Vice President
As a statewide economic development organization, we have no physical product to offer prospective businesses. Instead, we are a supplier of a different sort – information. The physical “product,” such as the buildings and sites that you can find in our web-based Available Properties database, is actually that of the state’s communities. In fact, the community itself can ultimately be considered the product.
Because strong, well-prepared communities make the state more competitive, EDPA has put greater emphasis on this area of economic development – call it “product development” for Alabama. To achieve this, we launched the Community Partner Program last year to enhance our work to support communities.
Currently, EDPA is working with 17 local economic development organizations through the Community Partner program on initiatives such as strategic planning, marketing support, target sector analysis and business retention strategies. In much of our work, we have offered an assessment of the community’s current condition and where we believe it has the greatest opportunity for success. Then, we provide assistance as the community develops a plan to leverage identified assets and take advantage of opportunities.
In addition, we are available on an ongoing basis to provide tools, resources, counsel and other assistance in the local economic developer’s day-to-day efforts to attract, grow and retain jobs.
It’s often said that the local economic developers are one of Alabama’s greatest strengths in economic development. You can also say that about the communities that they serve. We hope the work we are doing through this partnership will make them, and Alabama, even stronger.