Driving Economic Development: Small City Guide

Washington, DC

The fundamental question(s) millennials face: “who am I and how do I fit in?” is the same for businesses, cities, and their developers. The American forefathers entrusted us the single most valuable liberty: freedom to pursue. Whatever the endeavor may be, in this country you have the opportunity to pursue it. If red tape disrupts that pursuit, you have the ability to change it. To an individual, this could be a simple or complex choice, that’s no different for a collective thought of administration.


The first choice every single entity has to make is: what type of entity do we wish to be? I know, an abstract question, yet if broken down, the importance is incredible. What it fundamentally asks is: 1) how will we provide a service or product? 2) How will we handle incoming and outgoing requests of all types? 3) Where are we going with this? 4) Why does it matter?

Over the past decade, we’ve seen hundreds of different cities flourish worldwide. With time, global developers, economists, and strategists have been able to obtain more statistics to better understand: upwards trends in cities, labor correlation with stability, and new business (including industry) creation. Most importantly, 2013 marked a key global shift of economic powers that, with proper strategic development, will benefit small cities and stabilize growth in developed and underdeveloped countries.

Development 1: Any city can transform given the right strategies

However, economic development directors beware: competition for development will be tougher than ever before. For the first time in history, there is an abundant transparency and availability of knowledge. In large part due to big firms creating free in-depth reports to stay relevant and obtain government and fortune 500 fishing licenses. Meanwhile small firms use these very same reports in guerilla marketing strategies taking smaller clients. Corporations have separated their divisions into fiefdoms competing for larger budgets and (overall) more resources. Instead of united companies, we are seeing confusion and corporate red tape. Without quick decisions, opportunities pass. This makes for an imbalance in the market place between firms, which in turn, it begins balancing opportunity costs amongst private and public.

Fortunately, this is exactly why, right now is the apex of development opportunities. For all strategic development experts, this isn’t just good news, but the great equalizer… a blank canvas. The only ones who can survive these turbulent, yet stable, markets are those who wish to share the knowledge. It’s a new generation of thinking where the experienced are bringing together all the knowledge that has been accrued for a higher understanding of sustainability in society.

    To establish development in a city, there must be three main focuses with multiple sub focuses that aid the main points. All of them, gearing towards ethical & sustainable futures.

  1. Industry: A city should have a minimum of three major corporation in the city’s chosen industry. Preferably, there is a diverse balance between multiple sectors to maintain stability when one of the industries is feeling a recession. It would be ideal to establish opposing industries to counter balance any negative side effects of economic fluctuations. Here is the key to understanding the city’s sense of ‘self’. Whatever items separate the city from the rest is a competitive advantage. Whatever items are the same as other cities, is the equalizer.
    1. Safety: Is it safer than the rest? This is geared towards underdeveloped cities. Making safety a priority allows for private trust.
    2. Infrastructure: Is there possibility for growth? Where will


  1. Entrepreneurship: There seems to be a large misconception between small business owners, startups, entrepreneurship, and innovation. What I’m referring to is the latter: innovation. The word has been so widely overused since social media service companies popped up everywhere, that it has lost its meaning. Entrepreneurship means a city’s dedication to encourage a sense of urgency to create, develop, and improve products and services that will benefit the sustainability of the city. The emphasis should be on scalability for other similar cities that can benefit from the same project. Additionally, the city should be encouraging the development of businesses headquartering locally.
    1. Technology: What technology will make the life of residents better?
    2. Industry Resources: How can we obtain raw material efficiently and effectively?


  1. Education: Understanding that as a city, your clients are the ambitious minds of your residents and of prospective residents. Your job is to inspire within. This is likely, the most challenging aspect. Education refers to schooling and societal maturity. Socioeconomics has taught us one thing above all else- your socioeconomic status is a larger determining factor for your future than any other component. In other words: race, sex, heritage, ethnicity, or any other profiling item than can segregate or separate groups is secondary to socioeconomic status. Why? Education received. This also explains why some of the greatest minds and talent have come from some of the worse and poorest neighborhoods in the world. Read: If you’ve overcome to achieve outside of where you started, with the proper instruction (internal or external) you are likely going to continue doing so. Hope, at its core, is a very powerful mental tool. Can education teach us ambition, hope, and diligence?
    1. School cooperation: What type of thought leaders can instill future growth perspective to students?
    2. Credibility: How many of the students are growing to become productive members of society and its city?

The implementation process is, naturally, never a simple effort when a single city can have millions of citizens. It all comes down to resource availability. These resource include but are not limited to: technological, marketing, financial, human, platform, and other less quantifiable resources. Entrepreneurship is a delicate mix between education and enterprise. It’s the product of pairing industry with understanding a better tomorrow. If you have the choice to start somewhere, entrepreneurship is the fastest growth opportunity and possesses the biggest impact.

How does your development strategies integrate with overall global development? Have you used any other methods to create growth in your community, firm, or administration? Leave comments with any thoughts, questions, or ideas.


Diego M. Silva Aceituno, Chief Executive

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