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Unlocking Success: The Role of Communication and Collaboration in Regional Economic Development

By RDG Principal Amy Curtis

Economic development entities play a pivotal role in fostering regional growth and prosperity. These organizations are tasked with driving positive change, attracting investments, creating an environment conducive to business expansion, and talent attraction. But what are the critical ingredients for their success? Look no further than communication and collaboration. 

The impact of stakeholders on economic development cannot be underestimated. They are a crucial part of the process, highlighting their immense value and contribution.

In our experience at RDG, working with regional economic development organizations nationwide, communication consistently emerges as a top priority. When numerous stakeholders with diverse objectives convene, navigating discussions and formulating a unified strategy becomes challenging. Addressing this challenge is not just important; it's imperative for the success of our economic development endeavors.

Recently, I had the opportunity to chat with Blake Roebuck, the Indy Chamber's Director of Investor Relations, about stakeholder engagement and what is working well for the Indianapolis Region regarding significant events such as the upcoming US Olympic Swim Trials and the recent NBA All-Star Game.

“After successful bids for sporting events and championships, the Indiana Sports Corp. will assemble a Local Organizational Committee. This committee includes local business leaders, civic and community leaders, and philanthropic representatives to create a world-class event for our guests. These events aim to create legacy projects that continue to provide a meaningful impact for years to come.”

He then mentioned, "Stakeholder doesn’t just mean ‘investors’ or ‘members’; it means individuals willing to share their time, treasures, capacity, and (sometimes) cash to elevate our community. Our work in Economic Development is to improve the quality of life for our people, places, and businesses. Doing this collectively allows us to better compete not only for sporting events and conventions but for talent, tourism, and business investment against our peer MSAs through image building, equitable legacy projects, and economic impact."

The region (regardless of location) will succeed by proactively communicating with regional stakeholders and creating an environment for collaboration. Being proactive is critical as it fosters trust and allows for inclusive decision-making.

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