By Ronnie L. Bryant, Principal of Ronnie L. Bryant, LLC

When it comes to future forward thinking and leadership for economic development organizations, I believe we have a wealth of opportunities to evolve and thrive. Now is the time to bring open minds, fresh approaches, and greater diversity to our work in order to reach the highest levels of economic success for our organizations and our stakeholders.

I believe there are some cornerstones to focus on as we move ahead to a brighter future and economic vitality.

Identity – First we must ask, “Who are we and Why are we?” A crystal clear focus and understanding of our core mission, vision, values, competencies, and best practices is absolutely critical. Can we keenly answer the question, “What does success look like?” We can only move forward into a brave new future with a solid mindset of our reason for being, and understanding the charge we have to elevate economic vitality for our communities in all their various forms.

Inclusion – How can we reach out to work with new stakeholders in full collaboration for mutual success? From elected officials, to community leaders, public agencies, and business visionaries, a comprehensive approach to economic development is more necessary now than ever before. Working with a broad base of stakeholders brings a wealth of knowledge, improved understanding of shared goals, and the best way to achieve success for all involved.

Innovation – As we prepare to meet the challenges and seize the new opportunities for economic development organizations, we must never cease to expand our knowledge while also learning how to think in new ways. How can we use new approaches to shine and differentiate our organizations in order to achieve our goals? Forward thinking, flexibility, and creative problem solving are some keys to keep top of mind in order to seize success.

I’d also add another ‘I’ – that of Inspiration. As economic development leaders we have the awesome opportunity to serve as leaders who inspire the best in people, and to serve as role models in our vision of growing the quality of life for all those we serve.