How do we grow our local economy? How do we add more people to the area workforce?
There are several significant ways this will be achieved. To begin, local firms need to hang on and survive. Because the very stagnant and lethargic economy, many local companies are experiencing flat or declining revenues. Some companies are seeing some revenue growth, while a few firms have and others will close their doors due to intense and innovative competition.
While we wait for customers to buy again, careful and thoughtful cost cutting is in order to weather the economic storm. In time, those who have done so and have survived the challenge will be in a better position to accelerate sales again.
In the meantime, there are three tasks that must be accomplished. First, we need to help local companies grow their revenues. Second, we need to invite firms from outside the area to locate here. Third, we need to encourage entrepreneurs to start new companies.
If, over the course of the next few years, we wish to employ several thousand more workers, we will need to focus our efforts on these three growth engines.
How do we help local businesses grow their revenues and thereby hire more people? Revenues come from two sources: New customers and existing customers who buy more goods and services. To find and engage with new customers, the goal of each area firm should be to identify new market segments, new products that can be sold and new geographical locations with potential new customers.
To grow revenues with existing customers, a firm should do the following:
* Learn if customers have greater needs and are willing to buy more existing products and services.
* Determine if customers will buy new related products or services.
* Increase operational efficiencies to lower costs to provide additional financial resources to develop new products and enter new markets.
Growth also depends on finding new customers, understanding their needs, offering them an acceptable product at a valued price and, most importantly, turning them into customers.
Another way to grow revenues is to sell products and services to customers in a new geographic area. In the past, a company was required to establish an office or retail store in a given city.
Today, thanks to the capacity and reach of the Internet, a merchant in Ogden can sell to someone anywhere in the world. Is there more that can be done to make Ogden firms more international companies via the Web?
City and county officials, in conjunction with state economic development agencies, will continue to identify and attract firms from outside the area to locate in Ogden. This initiative will be a very important component of local growth.
Helping entrepreneurs start and grow a new business can be a significant economic engine. Over the next few years, it should be possible to launch multiple new firms that, in time, will employ hundreds of new workers.
People with a dream of starting a new enterprise need to know the Ogden community is here to help them with investment dollars, talented employees, educational tools to help establish and build a viable business and numerous other critical resources.
In sum, the answer to growing the economy will be to focus on local firms, outside companies and on entrepreneurs.
These three economic engines, working independently and together, will bring prosperity to our community.
Alan Hall is founder and chairman of Grow Utah, a not-for-profit entity with a mission of stimulating economic development through entrepreneurship.