Month: May 2016

IEDC on Retail Attraction Success

Those responsible for attracting retail really need to learn the vernacular – the language of retail and the dynamics of deal structures. Monitor the trends in the industry. Pay attention to what preferred tenants are doing inside the store and out. Learn what tenants need to enter the market and about their specific site requirements. Compile this data and other relevant metrics for them. Make it easy to find, in print and online. Build trusting relationships early in the recruitment process, as it can take years for a lease to happen. Look at your internal protocol and approval processes, including zoning. Be proactive. Moreover, don’t be afraid to use your imagination. Here are 10 takeaways to help ensure success:

  1. Garner political will and local support.
  2. Collaborate with local industry leaders.
  3. Develop relevant tools and incentives to support existing and new retailers.
  4. Collect basic economic data about your specific geographic market to determine potential retail demand.
  5. Track retail and market trends.
  6. Identify key retail streets/areas and collect retail square footage numbers – net rentable square footage, lease information – and build a database with contact information, photos, etc.
  7. Create simple marketing materials to support findings and help sell the vision to owners and potential retail clients.
  8. Begin recruiting retailers who fit the mix.
  9. Know the space requirements of retailers, and product available.
  10. Know what criteria retailers need to enter the market.

Source: IEDC Now

Growth Partnership May 2016 Ashtabula County Jobs Report Summary

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” ~Thomas A. Edison


As part of the Economic and Community Dashboard Project, starting in May 2016, the Growth Partnership has begun producing a Monthly Jobs Report, which discusses monthly and longer term changes in employment, unemployment, and the labor force in Ashtabula County. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is used in preparing the report. All data are based on individual place of residence. In other words, the data refers to people who live in Ashtabula County who are working inside and outside the county or who are unemployed.

Financial support for the new Monthly Jobs Report has been provided by an anonymous donor. We wish to express our gratitude to this generous donor, who recognizes that information and knowledge are important to economic development.


1. Summary: Ashtabula County employment averaged 41,800 in March 2016, about the same level of employment as 2010. The current labor force average was 44,400. The county’s labor force contracted by 5,600 since 2007, but the rate of labor force contraction has slowed since mid-2014. The unemployment picture has improved over the past several years as the number of unemployed and the unemployment rate has decreased. However, the unemployment rate improvement has primarily been due to labor force contraction, rather than employment growth.

2. Employment: The twelve-month moving average of employment in the county decreased from about 46,600 in 2007 to 41,900 in 2010 and has remained at that level during the national economic recovery. The volatile “not seasonally adjusted” employment estimate for March 2016 surged to 41,816, about 600 better than the previous March.

3. Labor Force: The labor force includes all persons at least 16 years old with a job or seeking a job, and excludes persons in the military or institutionalized. In Ashtabula County, the labor force has decreased from 50,000 in 2007 to 44,400 in early 2016, a loss of 5,600. The recession may have accelerated the contraction and the weak recovery led to some discouraged workers who stopped efforts to gain employment. The county’s labor force has been contracting for a decade, but the rate of loss slowed in 2015. The labor force grew slightly in preliminary 2016 estimates.

4. Labor Force: Since 2007, the annual rate of change in the labor force has typically been negative with varying loss rates of -300 to -700. However, the rate of loss has been decreasing since mid-2014 and the labor force expanded in early 2016, possibly due to the mild winter.

5. Unemployment: Unemployment includes persons who are currently jobless, available for work and actively seeking for work in the past four weeks. A person not seeking work but still jobless, is not considered part of the labor force and not counted as unemployed. The post-recession decrease of 4,000 in Ashtabula County unemployment would normally be regarded as a favorable occurrence, but nearly the same number stopped actively seeking work.

6. Unemployment Rate: Ashtabula County’s unemployment rate has been decreasing since 2010. The average unemployment rate in Ashtabula County for the past 12 months averaged 6.1%, which was below the long-term average rate of 8.6%.

7. Difference 1% Change Makes: With a labor force of about 45,000, a change of 1% in the number of persons employed or unemployed represents a numerical change affecting 450 workers.

8. Important Point: Unemployment and unemployment rates may be affected significantly by both hiring and labor force changes. When the unemployment rate drops and the number of unemployed persons decreases, it may be because more persons are hired, or because persons stop seeking work, or both. Since employment was not growing since 2010, the falling unemployment rate in Ashtabula County was largely due to persons leaving the labor force.

Note on Data: Data for Ashtabula County employment and unemployment comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) program and is not seasonally adjusted. LAUS provides official monthly and annual average estimates of civilian labor force, employment, unemployment, and unemployment rates for about 7,500 subnational areas, including Ashtabula County. LAUS estimates are based on individual place of residence.

Download the full report at the Growth Partnership website. Click on the red link on the right side of the front page entitled “Growth Partnership Monthly Jobs Report: May 2016 (Download Here).”

Out-Migration by Age Group for Ashtabula County

The chart below shows out-migration from Ashtabula County in the 1980s (1990 Census) and 2000s (2010 Census) by age group. Out-migration is up across all age groups in the 2000s over the 1980s. The biggest increase is found in two age groups: 30-34 year olds and 35-39 year olds. The data show net migration per 100 residents. Drilling into other Census migration data, I find that most of this out-migration is due to change in employment. We will be digging deeper into this issue in the future.

ashco migration 1990s and 20002

Temporary Workers in Manufacturing: Two Sides of the Coin

By Eli Dile, International Economic Development Council

The typical temp is looking less like the office receptionist or mail room clerk and more like the machine operator on the factory floor.

Contingent workers are a growing element of the manufacturing workforce. In 1990, 42 percent of temporary workers were considered clerical and 28 were in manufacturing. By 2000, manufacturing employees shot up to 47 percent of the temporary workforce.

Manufacturers value temporary workers for several reasons (Area Development). Temporary staffing agencies save them money on recruiting, screening, interviewing, and other overhead costs. Demand fluctuates rapidly in the industry, and temporary workers allow for flexible hiring to meet seasonal orders. This was especially useful after the Great Recession, allowing employers to add staff slowly and keep pace with the recovery without having to invest too much in training.

For workers, it allows some to test the waters in a new field. The sector still deals with a stigma as being “dirty, dark, and dangerous,” and temporary work can open a new career field to those who otherwise wouldn’t have considered manufacturing.

However, some see this trend as another factor eroding the path to the middle class that manufacturing traditionally provided to millions of Americans (Industry Week). As the sector has already succeeded in reducing the power of unions, so too is it now limiting worker benefits, some argue. Furthermore, staffing temporary workers in industrial environments raises thorny questions regarding injury liability.

Small Business Confidence Down Some Nationally

U.S. small business confidence fell to a fresh two-year low in March amid persistent worries about sales and profits, the latest indication that economic growth braked sharply in the first quarter. The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) said on Tuesday its small business optimism index dipped 0.3 point to a reading of 92.6 last month, the lowest since February 2014. It has declined from a reading of 100 in December 2014 and has pushed further off its 42-year average of 98. Read more here on Reuters.

Locally in Ashtabula County we see some caution by smaller companies to increase employment because of lingering uncertainty about the national economy, the upcoming election, and the global economy.

Ashtabula County Healthcare Uninsured Number Improving

The U.S. Census Bureau’s Small Area Health Insurance Estimates (SAHIE) program produces timely estimates for all counties and states by detailed demographic and income groups. The SAHIE program produces single-year estimates of health insurance coverage for every county in the U.S.  The table below shows the uninsured numbers for Ashtabula County, 2006-2014. The uninsured number has dropped in large part nationally because of the Affordable Care Act.

uninsured healthcare ashco


Team NEO says exports are up!

Northeast Ohio’s export activity approached $29 billion in 2014, a 16% increase since 2006 and 40% since pre-recession levels in 2009, reports the quarterly Cleveland Plus Economic Review released today by Team NEO.

“Our strong manufacturing base, along with the region’s transportation/logistics network and business resources, contributes to this upward trend,” said Bill Koehler, CEO of Team NEO. “Manufactured goods represent 81% of all exports from Northeast Ohio.”

Statistics from the report include:

  •  Transportation Equipment and Chemical Manufacturing Top List of Export Goods
    • In 2014, exports for transportation equipment were at $4.2 billion, with chemical manufacturing exports at $3.5 billion. These two industries represent 27% of total goods exported in 2014.
  •  Consumer Food and Beverage Companies Lead Growth Segments
    •  From 2006 to 2014, beverage and tobacco exports increased 144%, to $57 million. Food manufacturing increased 63% for this same time period, to $916 million.
  •  Royalties Rank Highest Among Services Exported
    •  In addition to transporting goods, Northeast Ohio provides a variety of services to companies overseas. Royalties topped this list at $1.34 billion, followed by travel and tourism, and financial services, each approaching the $1 billion mark.

Incentive Warfare Between Kansas and Missouri

Things have gotten crazy in KC when comes to the bidding war for jobs with incentives.

In major metropolitan areas, using tax incentives to lure businesses from one part of the region to another can sometimes seem like a big family fight. In the Washington, D.C., area, for instance, several jurisdictions are vying to become the new headquarters of the FBI, which is currently located in the district. If the FBI moves outside of D.C., Maryland or Virginia can claim “new” jobs. But the net gain to the metro area is negligible, save the temporary work created by new construction.

In nowhere does this chess match seem more futile than in Kansas City, which sits in both Kansas and Missouri. The two states have long competed with each other to woo businesses across the state line. AMC Theaters, Applebee’s and JP Morgan Retirement are just a few businesses that have crossed the border in recent times. So much money is involved that the tax incentives battle has been dubbed the Kansas City Border War. Read the complete article in Governing online.

Leadership in Economic Development: The Five Dysfunctions

From IEDC Now

By Joy Wilkins, CEcD

For all the attention that it has received over the years from scholars, coaches, teachers, and the media, teamwork is as elusive as it has ever been within most organizations. The fact remains that teams, because they are made up of imperfect human beings, are inherently dysfunctional. But that is not to say that teamwork is doomed. Far from it. In fact, building a strong team is both possible and remarkably simple. But it is painfully difficult.

–  Patrick Lencioni

Whether you’re talking about a major city or rural township, the most successful communities are those whose leaders are rowing together in the same direction and in harmony with each other. Because this is somewhat unique, these communities are often viewed in our profession as special. There are even some communities that do not have any inherent reason to be successful in economic development (such as location, infrastructure, or natural resources) that have become communities of choice because of good, cohesive leadership.What is perhaps the leading barrier that prevents communities from reaching their true potential? In a word, leadership. Or to be more exact, leaders who aren’t working together effectively for positive change.

“Not finance. Not strategy. Not technology,” writes executive coach, consultant and author Patrick Lencioni, “It is teamwork that remains the ultimate competitive advantage, both because it is so powerful and so rare.”

This is especially true in the team sport of economic development. How can we work to develop great teams in the communities and organizations we serve? In his 2002 book, “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team,” Lencioni outlines the reasons why teams fail and even successful ones struggle, and provides specific measures for addressing these problems.

Absence of trust

The absence of trust makes teamwork impossible, explains Lencioni. Trust is the foundation of all great relationships.

To build trust, he suggests that we find ways to truly get to know each other, and this includes letting others see our vulnerabilities. By showing our true selves, we can connect on some fundamental truths: As humans, we are each flawed, we each make mistakes, and we can each do better than we did before. We can also forge trusted relationships within our teams where people accept each other, no matter what, and go out of their way to help each other.

“In the context of building a team, trust is the confidence among team members that their peers’ intentions are good, and that there is no reason to be protective or careful around the group,” says the author.

What does a trusting team look like?  According to Lencioni, members of such teams do the following:

  • Admit weaknesses and mistakes
  • Ask for help
  • Accept questions and input about their areas of responsibility
  • Give one another the benefit of the doubt before arriving at a negative conclusion
  • Take risks in offering feedback and assistance
  • Appreciate and tap into one another’s skills and experiences
  • Focus time and energy on important issues, not politics
  • Offer and accept apologies without hesitation
  • Look forward to meetings and other opportunities to work as a group

As economic developers, building this type of trust among our team members can be challenging, given the sensitive and competitive dynamics in which we often operate. These dynamics can result in being political and strategic in our interactions and can sometimes hinder real conversation.

We are also in a fairly transient profession, so there may be legitimate concerns about whether we can maintain trusted relationships in one place after moving on to another place to serve. However, it can and has been done. Many successful economic development leaders have been able to establish and maintain trusted relationships in several communities in which they have served. As the author points out, building these relationships does not happen overnight, but takes considerable time, ongoing engagement with each other, and a great purpose to rally around.

Fear of conflict

Because managing conflict is challenging, we may be tempted to avoid it altogether. However, as Lencioni and others point out, not all conflict is bad. “All great relationships, the ones that last over time, require productive conflict in order to grow,” he says. Here, he is referring to productive ideological conflict, rather than conflict of a destructive or personally harmful nature.

Open and honest discussions about important concepts can help teams reach the right conclusions more efficiently and save time and energy, the author notes. This is especially important in economic development, given the number of complex and fast-paced issues we deal with each day. These issues can best be addressed through the kind of vetting that allows for healthy conflict. Where there may be concerns about hidden agendas or special interests behind proposed ideas, these concerns can be alleviated when there is trust and an agreed-upon focus on the collective good, Lencioni’s work shows.

Lack of commitment

In economic development, given the public nature of the work we do, we often seek consensus before making important decisions. In reality, total agreement is often not possible. However, Lencioni explains that great teams find ways to achieve buy-in regardless; they make sure that everyone’s ideas are genuinely heard and agree to support whatever decision is made by the majority.

Another factor that slows or halts decision-making, according to the author, is uncertainty regarding whether a decision is correct. This is especially the case in our profession, given the many unknown factors affecting the possible outcomes. In addition, the common fear of making a mistake may be exacerbated in economic development given the broad impacts a decision can have on the community as a whole. As a result, communities may find themselves in a state of data paralysis, continually studying matters rather than taking action. However, great teams, explains Lencioni, commit without perfect information; they tap into the collective wisdom of the group and make decisions based on trust in this wisdom.

Avoidance of accountability

Though it can be tempting to defer to top leadership to hold team members accountable, each of us serving on a team bears this responsibility. However, we often don’t act on it.

Why? Team members often wish to avoid interpersonal discomfort, difficult conversations, or anything they view as potentially harming a relationship, explains the author. It can also be a struggle for members of cohesive teams to hold each other accountable where strong personal relationships exist, he notes. However, such avoidance will prevent a team from reaching its high-performing potential. And not addressing counterproductive behavior can eventually foster friction among team members, Lencioni points out, leading to resentment among team members, mediocrity, and missed goals.

Helping our peers see opportunities for improvement is good not only for the team, but ultimately for them as well. When someone is not performing to his or her optimum, not only does the team feel it, but the person feels it and it can affect his or her self-image. By constructively advising that person from a place of respect, he or she may be better able to incorporate changes that will bring out their productive best, and likely feel more fulfilled as a result.

Inattention to results

In order for a team to be truly successful, there must be “an unrelenting focus on specific objectives and clearly defined outcomes,” says Lencioni. In other words, the team must stay results-driven.

In our world of increasing distractions, this can be particularly difficult to do. The author also points out that team members sometimes may focus on personal needs or care more about status (such as being on the team or being in a certain position) than about reaching outcomes for the greater good. This can be a particular issue in economic development, given the high-profile aspects of many of our initiatives. However, this can be mitigated by taking the time to ensure that team members are not only rallied around the mission, but formally committed to doing their part to completing the mission and held accountable along the way in fulfilling their commitment.

Closing thoughts

Achieving any level of success in economic development depends upon the contributions of many partners working in tandem. When community leaders focus on developing a culture for collaboration and becoming a great team, they can achieve the extraordinary for the communities they serve, even in the most challenging of circumstances.

In summary, Lencioni identifies five approaches that members of great teams take the time, discipline, and persistence to develop:

  1. They trust one another.
  2. They engage in unfiltered conflict around ideas.
  3. They commit to decisions and plans of action.
  4. They hold one another accountable for delivering against those plans.
  5. They focus on the achievement of collective results.