The Greater Bossier Economic Development Foundation (GBEDF) is mission minded and we live out our mission in many ways. Our mission includes keeping the local tax base healthy and growing by adding new business to the marketplace. To achieve our mission, the GBEDF wears many hats and adheres to several best practices supported by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC). These efforts not only help to keep our tax base healthy but also helps to strengthen our community for generations to come.
All economic development organizations are charged with marketing their respective communities in some capacity. To do this effectively you have to know your community and its assets well. Marketing a community doesn’t always have to be flashy, it can be as simple as creatively presenting the answers for common site selector questions: How do we measure up with workforce capabilities and human capital?; What do our population numbers and demographics say about our community?; Do our education offerings support our current and future job market?; Can our transportation and infrastructure systems handle a company’s logistical needs? If the answers don’t align with what a company is looking for, then the right fit isn’t a local fit. For example, the highly publicized Amazon Headquarters (HQ2) search, which has been touted as the proposal of the decade, caused a lot of conversation locally. There haven’t been many times in history when economic developers witness companies of this size publicly ask to invest $5 billion dollars and create thousands of jobs in one lucky community. Our region’s inability to meet this company’s selection criteria stirred conversation within the community and this recent example brings us back full circle to the hard, defining questions. And that’s okay because in turn we learn through this process and find ourselves digging deeper and working to become a better community, one that serves industry as effectively as possible.
Finding the right fit:
One of the ways we measure success is by adding jobs to the market. However, not all jobs are created equal. Sometimes the selection process is in reverse; and it’s not so much the outside company looking in, rather the economic development organization serving in the role of looking outward to ensure the company requesting information about the community is a good fit. The GBEDF looks at certain criteria such as the number of jobs created, and the quality of wages offered when considering proposals. When working with companies we not only strive to meet industry needs, but we look at the future impact the business will have on the community. Our main goal is to make sure the project is mutually beneficial to both the community and company.
Being a liaison:
The GBEDF spends a great amount of time connecting the dots for outside companies who are seeking to move into the community. When these companies are headquartered outside of the area it is the economic development organization’s job as a gatekeeper to facilitate the establishment of various partnerships to assist the company’s needs and to increase their ROI in the community.
Investing in your community:
Strong communities invest in themselves. A part of our economic development strategy is to reinvest revenue back into the community through various forms of community support. The GBEDF focuses on funding initiatives that directly impact the economic advancement of the area. Over the last ten years the GBEDF has invested over $2M in the local marketplace. Tourism, education and workforce, infrastructure development, and quality of life initiatives are just a few of the areas we support through annual community contributions that align with our economic development agenda.
Communities do not get built overnight. We’ve made great progress over the years. Lessons learned through the years have caused us to ask the hard questions but that has helped our community to look within and reinvest in ways that will help to continue the growth of the marketplace and to serve the needs of industry.