The old adage that if you want something done right, do it yourself may work for some tasks, but when it comes to economic development, creating partnerships is usually more effective.
That idea was brought home to the Flagler County Economic Opportunity Advisory Council last week by Aundra Wallace, president of the JAXUSA Partnership.
“Regionalism means hopefully we are all working together for the good of the region,” he said.
The level of regional cooperation that JAXUSA promotes is designed to create more opportunities throughout the seven member counties and is based on the idea of strength in numbers, Wallace said.
“I’ve worked in a number of different communities and I understand what it is like to have different counties and different cities competing for the same company,” he said. “Being partners is better than being competitors.”
Wallace said the partnership between JAXUSA and its seven member counties promotes the region and economic development success for any of the counties is a success for all.
“When you’re regional, you have more resources,” he said. “It creates efficiencies and we have much more opportunities for our community.”
The regional partnership idea is not new, but in the increasingly competitive nature of economic development it makes sense to take advantage of the diversity of the region when looking to attract new business development. While some may feel their county missed out on an opportunity that went to another community, the more attention the region receives from site selectors and decision makers, the better for all.
Public/private partnerships have been a “thing” in economic development circles for some time, with varying degrees of success. Flagler County has had its share of economic partnerships, including Enterprise Flagler, but in the face of the bursting of the housing bubble and subsequent Great Recession in 2007, a series of community meetings resulting in the creation of the Flagler County Department of Economic Opportunity.
From the start, that renewed cooperative effort included recognition of the value of regional relationships like the JAXUSA Partnership. The regional approach Wallace outlined can only add to Flagler County’s ability to attract new business development.
What makes it even more important, and certainly more refreshing, is Wallace’s perspective that when a prospect comes to JAXUSA an effort is made to find the best fit for that company in the region.
“We show all of Northeast Florida and we support each and every county,” he said. “We’re positioning each of the counties to be competitive.”
Or to put it another way, if the mantra for real estate is location, location, location then in economic development it is cooperation, cooperation, cooperation.
And that is the power of partnerships.
By Aaron London, Gainesville Sun, Feb. 27, 2019