A Local, Collaborative Approach to Wealth-Building Economic Development


Want to better your community but don’t know where to start? Enter It’s the Little Things: a weekly Strong Towns podcast that gives you the wisdom and encouragement you need to take the small yet powerful actions that can make your city or town stronger.

It’s the Little Things features Strong Towns Community Builder Jacob Moses in conversation with various guests who have taken action in their own places and in their own ways.

Ask your average local government official how their city approaches economic development, and you’ll likely hear something like this: chase a few large endeavors—say, incentivizing a corporation to move to town via way-too-many subsidies—and hope it will trickle down to something resembling success.

Too often, this approach is treated as the only tool we have. Sit at any council meeting across the country and you’ll witness city leaders hyper-focused on a few go big or go home projects. It’s the norm, sadly—despite generating less tax revenue and demanding huge subsidies.

However, there’s a better, more financially productive way to approach economic development—a way that focuses on residents and won’t break the bank. And the best part: all you need to do is find your existing assets and foster an environment where they can collaborate on a local level.

That’s why, in this episode, we have Ed Morrison on the podcast: Director at the Purdue Agile Strategy Lab and author of the recently released book Strategic Doing: Ten Skills for Agile Leadership. For nearly 30 years, Ed has helped communities across the nation identify the assets they already have—think non-profits or local businesses—and strengthen their capacity to build community wealth.

In this episode, Ed shares how city leaders can grow their economies by fostering collaboration on a local level, including how to find existing assets in your community, how to encourage existing organizations to focus on a shared goal, and how to incrementally pursue that goal.