Seeing the opportunities in global competition
We are all competing in a dynamic global economy. New technologies emerge continuously. Capital now ﬂies around the globe at the click of a mouse. Collapsing trade barriers open new markets. Low-cost labor under-cuts the competitive position of established businesses. The Internet, our ﬁrst interactive mass medium, opens the door to entirely new organizational forms that cross traditional market boundaries. All of these factors create new competition but also great opportunity. In a world of global rivalry, success depends on combining knowledge, skills and creativity in new ways. Traditional approaches economic develop-ment -- which depended on assembling low-cost land, labor and capital -- are no longer adequate. At REI, we have developed a new approach to help communities and regions build a prosperous future. Called Open Source Economic Development, our approach emphasizes the need to build new collaborations in the “civic space” where economic development takes place.
Rebuilding our civic spaces
Economic development involves designing and implementing investment partnerships. These partnerships form in the civic space that exists outside the four walls of any one organization. In many communities, we have ignored these civic spaces; now, we must rebuild them. This step requires us to build new civic habits of dialogue and inclusion. These habits are critical to the forma-tion of the networks we need to compete in a global age. Regions that work consciously to build these networks of mutual respect and collaboration will be better off. In a complex world of continuously shifting trends, they will learn faster. They will spot opportunities faster. And they will act faster.
Moving from strategic planning to strategic learning
Global economies are continuously shifting, and successful regions must continually adapt. Effective eco-nomic development entails strategic learning, not strategic planning. Far too often, strategic planning in economic development has become an empty ritual. In contrast, strategic learning engages the community in a continuous process of uncovering insights into new opportunities and translating these insights into strategic activities and transformational initiatives. 3