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A digital toolkit for Ec Dev 2.0 | Number 36 | Circ 6,407

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New social media tools for real-world neighbourhoods


There has been a lot written about the use and potential benefits of social media for economic development (take a look at this TINAN article or this one for instance), but few plug into local communities in quite the same way as Neighborland and Nextdoor. Each website aims to connect people in their real world communities. Neighborland focuses more on civic engagement at the local level, allowing users to share ideas for improving their communities by completing the sentence “I want ____ in my neighborhood”. The site goes a step further than a digital suggestion box and seeks to make sure local agencies see popular ideas and supports initiatives to bring these ideas to life. Check out some of Neighborland's inspiring stories and the Idea of the Week.

Nextdoor takes a different approach, seeking to strengthen communities by building relationships between neighbours. Through a private Nextdoor website, neighbours can share recommendations and questions while getting to know the people in their immediate community. Take a look at Nextdoor’s catchy manifesto, this short introductory video, the demo neighbourhood, and about what Nextdoor can do for cities. While these sites are US based, they’re great examples of how communities everywhere can use social media tools to strengthen neighbourhoods and work towards common goals.

American cities in the global economy

Urban America: US cities in the global economy

McKinsey Global Institute’s recent report, Urban America: US cities in the global economy, details the importance of cities for generating both national and global GDP growth. With 80% of U.S. citizens living in large cities, these urban centres are expected to drive global GDP growth by more than 10 percent to 2025. While this impact would be expected of cities like New York or Los Angeles, the report reveals that middleweight cities have been the true facilitator of growth. These cities - like Phoenix, Raleigh, Atlanta and Austin - are responsible for generating 70% of the GDP in the United States. Technology and research, for example, have allowed Raleigh, NC, to outperform many of its peers, while Salt Lake, UT, and Dallas, TX, remain strong as their populations rapidly expand.

On the heels of the Great Recession, the report recommends that policy makers focus on a city's unique attributes and weaknesses while connecting to other US and international cities and companies when strategically planning its growth in the “global urban landscape”. Available in Kindle, eBook, and PDF formats, this report is worth a look for its insights on the role of cities, particularly American cities, in global economic growth as the world's population becomes increasingly urbanized.

A best practices toolkit for economic developers

Best Practice Toolkit

Last fall the Regional Development Branch of the Government of Alberta, in collaboration with the Northern Alberta Development Council and the Economic Developers Association of Alberta, conducted the “Economic Development Practitioners - Leading Practices Survey”. From the results of this survey they compiled a Best Practice Toolkit addressing 10 Leading Practice Categories identified by survey participants. Categories include Building Stakeholder Relationships, Business Retention and Expansion, Strategic Planning, and Diversification Strategies. In each category, the toolkit provides a range of resources and reference materials from a number of sources, making it a useful tool for economic developers in Alberta and beyond.

Tackling challenges to Canadian competitiveness

Earlier this year the Canadian Chamber of Commerce published a report entitled Tackling the Top-10 Barriers to Canadian Competitiveness. Based on consultations with its business network of members, the Chamber identified 10 leading policy and regulatory barriers on which it will focus its advocacy and outreach. These barriers were:

  • Resolving Canada’s skills crisis
  • Keeping Canadians working/helping federally regulated businesses compete
  • Improving a tax system that is complicated and reliant on income and profits
  • Breaking down internal barriers between provinces and territories
  • Regulating efficiently by balancing proper bureaucracy with business growth
  • Attracting foreign direct investment by promoting investment opportunities and strengthening regulatory regimes
  • Stimulating research and development and bringing new innovative products to market
  • Using information and communications technology to make Canadian workers more productive and competitive
  • Providing venture capital financing businesses need to grow
  • Maintain and updating our infrastructure, which includes roads, bridges, highways, water systems and electrical grid

Although these barriers to Canadian competitiveness require a response from the appropriate federal and provincial governments, economic development professionals should be well versed in the policy and regulations that are preventing businesses from further investing and hiring in local communities. The Tackling the Top-10 Barriers to Canadian Competitiveness report is a helpful resource for those seeking to better understand these issues and the implications for their communities.

How the remote office changes everything in talent management

WORKshift logo

As technology, social media and 24-7 access through multiple communication channels continue to influence how we do business, so too are they creating greater opportunities for people to work from home, a local coffee shop or the local pub. What a recruitment and retention strategy!

TalentManagement offers tips to HR managers on taking advantage of the teleworking trend. For a some helpful information and resources, check out Calgary Economic Development Corporation’s WORKshift, an innovative local program that focuses on reducing local traffic congestion, decreasing demand on office space, and bringing work-life balance to the forefront. Not sure of the benefits – use this calculator and do the math. Not sure where to start? An Introduction to the Complete Workshifting Toolkit How to Start, Execute and Maintain a Teleworking Business and Culture may give you the answers.

The Ec Dev 2.0 Digital Tools

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