mauryOctober is here! The month that children get to celebrate Halloween by dressing up in scary costumes and extorting candy from their community neighborhoods. Kids and dentists love it. I have often said that economic development is like Halloween. When kids hear that Halloween is right around the corner, the only thing that goes through their minds is that they are getting candy they can enjoy for the next month. When a community hears that economic development is coming soon, the only thing that goes through their mind is that they are getting a company to relocate that will create high wage jobs for years to come…

There are lots of similarities between Halloween and business recruitment. Children put a lot of time and effort into their costume and economic developers put a lot of time in preparing proposals. Kids are competing with other kids for candy and communities are competing with other communities for jobs. Children ask for treats or they will do something scary (“trick or treat”) and businesses ask for incentives or they will take their jobs elsewhere (“treat or trick”). Kids knock on a lot of doors asking for candy. Economic developers knock on lot of doors looking for companies that create jobs. Children take their “stash” home and are disappointed that they did not get the good chocolate candy. Communities give businesses the incentives they demand but are upset that the company did not create as many jobs as they promised or the wages were lower than expected. However, there is one big difference between Halloween and business recruitment. You know that Halloween will come at least once a year, but you can’t really say that a business will relocate to your community at least once a year. In fact each year, there are only 150-200 companies that make the decision to relocate and many of those decide to do it in their existing state.


The key to any successful recruitment is effective targeting. But communities should realize that  a business is not the only thing that will stimulate growth in a community. Think about recruiting campaigns that target the potential of local entrepreneurs, conventions, and tourists; high school kids with skills who want to move back home; college graduates who may have started a company elsewhere; doctors and artists and many others who make up a robust economy(did you know Thurston County added 200 creative arts industry jobs last year?). All of these targets will improve your odds of getting community economic development that is meaningful and strengthens your community.  Let’s help make both Halloween and economic development a little less scary so that our kids will have good teeth and good sustainable businesses and jobs in the future.. More treats, less tricks for our Washington communities.