Here are some tips to work with members of your community to engage, innovate and succeed around economic development for your area
Creating 'Our Story'
It is important that you create your story and share it with your community. It is vital that whether you are talking with someone from the area or not, that they see the bigger picture. Doing this by capturing photos, talking about personal experiences in the area, and recalling memorable moments is not only important to show whomever your audience is what your area offers, but also how passionate you are about it. This will become your framework that you can attach new discoveries and stories to the more you find out about your community.
Visiting your local businesses
Your local businesses are what keeps your areas running and thriving. It is important you take the time out to not only go and visit those down the main street, but also the ones that are in remote locations, or tucked away in areas which you do not travel often. Remember how important these employers are to your local economy, and don't discount the power of telling an employer just how important they are to the area.
Don't wait for people to come to you - create conversations around business and economic development. Sometimes hosting a meeting at a pleasant setting offsite bring people from different companies, tertiary providers or other community organisations then you would get if hosting it at the local council. This is a great way to bring stakeholders together to talk about creating opportunities and jobs, attracting new businesses or just simply connecting the dots in your community.
Discover your entrepreneurs
Make sure you know where the innovation and creativity resides in your community. Getting out and about in business circles will reveal this. A great tool to have is a 'Go to Business Leader' list of four or five people whom all can be called in to assist or mentor you in economic development ideas. Many of these people are bursting with new ideas but have not got the time or connections to make them happen. Not only will this help with the ideas they may have, they tend to spark off into new ideas as well.
Connecting Employers and Education
Visit your schools (Pre-schools, Primary, Secondary and Tertiary) and businesses to see what connections can be made. Whether you are connecting them together, or partnering with them to assist with each others initiatives.
Keep up to date with the latest developments in New Zealand through websites and business publications. It is important that you keep up to date locally, however it is critical that you are aware of what is happening around the country to, and sometimes around the world. This is a great way of learning some best practice, or getting you thinking about issues that are, or going to affect others.
Get to know your MP
Having a relationship with you local Member of Parliament is a great way of being connected to central government, especially when it comes to generating new economic development opportunities in your areas. It will not only assist with raising key issues or opportunities you may have, but also a great way of making connections with other MP's and/or Minister's.
Work collaboratively with other Mayors, councils and their communities
Collaboration between councils can go a long way to creating economic development opportunities. By defining a strategy, sharing resources, or even just holding regular meetings to share what is happening and how you might leverage off each other is a great way of collaborating and working together towards economic development.
It is critical to know your local demographic trends as well as the national trends. Young people are becoming a scarce commodity in many places, and they are going to be more costly to secure in jobs. This has been a key focus of the MTFJ in the past, and a special emphasis is being made going into the future.