(image courtesy of digidreamgrafix/

By Todd Letts, Executive Director of the Community Economic Revitalization Committee (CERC) of the Huron Chamber of Commerce
I'm going to a Tigers game in Detroit this weekend and I'm reminded of the old adage, "You can't steal second base with your foot on first." One interpretation of its meaning is that you need to take a chance if you are going to score. 
That adage reminded me of the discussion at Goderich Town Council earlier this month, regarding an important memo from Clerk/Administrator Larry McCabe. The memo outlined a number of steps to strengthen economic development in Goderich. Success in economic development has similarities to success in baseball. In addition to hitting, good fielding and smart base running win the game. 
(Image courtesy of Gualberto107/
From an economic development perspective, existing town staff historically have done a very good job at fielding. They've facilitated the sale of land, development of land, and meetings with developers for example. Our home squad involves a team of legal, engineering, building and planning professionals that perform these functions on behalf of the municipality. I've seen this team of professionals in action and they are very good, leaving positive impressions with prospective investors and answering their many questions in an efficient manner. The memo proposes to hire an economic development/tourism officer to complement the team. The memo answered a number of questions and made a number of good recommendations for proceeding on this decision:
1) Exactly what would this individual do? The way I see it, this is the member of the team that is your designated hitter. Council will be reviewing job descriptions from other municipal economic development posts to ensure best practices. This individual would work closely with the Chamber of Commerce, its Community Economic Revitalization Committee and other community partners that are actively working to attract investors from outside the County. The Rediscover Goderich campaign, for example, has reached over 1,940 “likes” on its Facebook page and is encouraging entrepreneurs, site locators and corporations to consider Goderich for their next location. A full-time economic developer would focus on outreach, so that our town can get on base and in the running to score new jobs for our community. 
2) How much would an economic developer cost? Town administration will explore current pay scales to ensure wages are commensurate with the job description. In baseball, there are always some trades close to the playoffs. Council may even want to consider a switch-hitter, someone that can do both economic development and tourism. And why not look at an innovative partnership model for this role? Council could further leverage the CERC team, and the talent working from the Huron Chamber of Commerce office.
3) How will hiring unfold? Council proposes to assemble a team of Councillors to review candidates once its research is complete in the first quarter of 2014. Council may also benefit by including outside representatives with contemporary economic development experience on their panel. Recruiting top talent in baseball involves a number of scouts looking for prospects. Many of the individuals involved in CERC have connections to networks of talented people that could be recruited to the position.
4) How will CERC be involved? Council proposes to continue its contribution to the winning team that the Huron Chamber has developed with CERC. CERC is a partnership of community individuals and business representatives. This partnership has successfully leveraged local financial contributions to attract even more provincial dollars for economic renewal. The CERC partnership has also completed its first year of a two-year plan called the Reinvestment Roadmap. Council's continued support of this team returns significant cost-savings and positive results to Goderich. Hats off to Council for recognizing the power of this partnership.
In all, Council should be applauded for pursuing the addition of a new player to their winning team. The addition of a new economic developer puts Goderich in the game, competing effectively with other municipalities for new investment and jobs. I suspect town founder Tiger Dunlop would be proud of Council for having these discussions and would encourage them to "get in it, to win it" in 2014. So do I. Go Tigers Go! 
(image courtesy of Chuck Felix/
Also check out: