County, City Leadership Can Return Jamestown To Previous Stature

To regain the Jamestown stature of years ago is a tall order, but not impossible.

In my opinion, it will take a significant effort, but will be well worth that effort. The probability of each step of success will be governed by the continuous passion of many locals. It will begin with the leadership of both the county and city in setting the tone. After their commitments, various assessments of capacities, limits and assets will be required. A lead individual and supporting cast will be necessary, ideally pulled from existing personnel. Much of this information is likely already housed in various city and county development agencies, but needs to be consolidated for easier use.

These assessments include the following arenas:

What are the remaining capacities of utilities to provide additional services, i.e. power, waste, water and communications?

What are the service area limitations of the above?

What tracts of land are available for development or redevelopment?

How does rezoning occur if necessary?

Ideally, where can industrial park(s) be located?

What are transportation availabilities and limitations?

What fire and security services are available and how can they be expanded if necessary?

What educational opportunities are available and how flexible are they to add new curriculum?

What cultural, recreation, entertainment, cuisine, sports and worship opportunities are available?

What local labor is available and with what skills?

What labor laws and traditions govern?

What local financing, if any, is available?

What housing is available – price, size, amenities and locations?

What concessions/inducements are possible?

What is the tax basis and rates?

What permits are required? What is the process? Who are the permitting agencies?

What certifications are required? What is the process? Who are the certifying agencies?

What is the process to obtain a C/O? Who are the agencies?

These assessments and projections are essential for a realistic and successful marketing campaign. It is always necessary to remember that you are in competition with other locations for entities to locate, expand and start up.

The support group needs to perform a concurrent assessment before a campaign to grow the area can begin. This assessment will be used to compile a list of candidate entities to contact. This list is arrived at by an analysis process of many sources to rank candidate entities by a perceived probability of a move to the county/city. The sources include financial journals, magazines and newspapers, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, credit agency reference books and networking. This ranking will be subjective and consider the following criteria:

Needs of the entity and the ability to fulfill them locally;

Impact on the local economy and environment;

Probability of local growth and longevity;

Financing source, credit rating and track record; and

Timing.

In other words, who, what, when, where and why are they expanding and/or starting up? Outside consultation and academic help may be needed in the analysis process.

The marketing tools can now be created. They include:

A brochure for mailing;

A video for followup communication upon request; and

Advertising in financial journals, magazines and newspapers.

Personal networking phone calls from the county executive, mayor and other prominent locals are in order for certain initial calls and followups. It will also be vitally necessary to track the status of all advertising, contacts made and responses. This will provide for appropriate followup and annoying followups.

The brochure objective is to realistically portray the county/city story as: desire to grow; friendly to business; support facilities available; recreational opportunities available by season; educational opportunities (pre-k through college); key local cultural events (include LucyFest); contact information and concentric circles of population by distances from Jamestown. The 10- to 20-minute video followup, when requested, emphasizes the brochure in picture and audio/video form, highlighting a variety of scenes, including an aerial view from Chautauqua Lake.

The objective of all this preparatory work is to allow the county/city to be proactive to achieve growth rather than to rely on or hope for higher government to be the lead in growing the community. Whenever a candidate entity is interested in visiting the area, a tour agenda needs to be pre-planned with flexible components to tailor the visit to the entity’s needs, i.e. who, where, what, when, etc. The legal area also needs to review the brochure, video and ads before use.

The homework is now done and mailing and telephoning can begin in a steady manner so as to not overwhelm followup on any response. The sequence involved is to start at the top of the ranking list and proceed toward the list’s end in batches of candidates. Whenever a new candidate responds or visits, the county/city will be well informed to both conduct a tour and answer questions. Whenever a formal discussion/negotiation takes place, legal, executive, legislative, financial and appropriate utility representation needs to be involved. Legislative action may also be necessary before concluding any agreement.

My interest is twofold: to see a campaign started and to know the first entity has broken ground.

John M. Burling is a Jamestown native who now lives in Florida.