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From Site Selection magazine, May 2010

Take-Home Value

Mark Arend
Illustration by Bob Gravlee


s this issue went to press, I had one foot planted in the midst of that effort and one pointed in the direction of Colorado Springs, where IAMC was preparing to gather at The Broadmoor for its Spring 2010 Professional Forum. By the time this magazine reaches your office or you read new May content online, the Forum will be over, but look for several reports on the proceedings here and at Well over 300 senior real estate directors, economic developers and service providers will have convened around the theme "Positioning for Growth: Value Demonstration in Challenging Times."

Like The Top Economic Development Groups and Top Deals participants profiled in this issue, and the Competitiveness Award-winning team at Virginia Economic Development Partnership, the IAMC attendees will have honed their skills and learned new ways to demonstrate value in their organizations in challenging times. The take-home value of IAMC Forums is unparalleled, our research tells us, and we at Site Selection supplement that content throughout the year in print and in our ever-expanding universe of online content at

One reason the Colorado meeting attendees, and my staff, will benefit long after the conference concludes is the supply of specific material to mull and to put into practice it affords. Concrete steps are good. They keep one on track and focused on making progress, much like the communities honored with Top Group status in this issue made progress in 2009 in the area of job creation. The Top Deals, too, generated some astounding new-jobs numbers.

What's not at all specific, in fact what muddies the economic-recovery picture like so much ash from a certain volcano whose name is pronounceable only to Icelanders, is the drumbeat of dubious data disingenuously cited by such groups as the White House Council of Economic Advisors, claiming millions of newly created or retained jobs from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (2.8 million last count!). Really?

If you couldn't join us in Colorado — even if you did — check out The Milken Institute's recent report, "Jobs for America: Investments and Policies for Economic Growth and Competitiveness," for some specific, job-creating steps it would be nice to see. Its tax reform proposals are well worth studying, but they're a long shot in this environment. But the Milken report's infrastructure recommendations are where real economic recovery will be evident. 

Here's where, specifically: the highway and transit system; broadband infrastructure; onshore exploration and development/offshore drilling; drinking water and wastewater infrastructure; the smart grid; nuclear energy; renewable energy; NextGen air traffic control system; inland waterways; and clean coal technology. The right investment in these, according to the report, will yield 11 million actual jobs over the next three years. Hopefully your company or community is busy in one or more of these areas — many of which were highlighted last year in our founder McKinley Conway's "Project New America."

Economic growth and competitiveness are what we are all about, as individuals, organizations, communities and societies. Stay tuned to Site Selection and IAMC for the specifics on how to bring them about.

Till next time,

Mark Arend
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