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Coaching Economic Development

Athletes, former athletes, and sports fans know unconsciously and involuntary we compare everything to sports.

That is where sports and economic development meet in this comparative way.

Happening right now in the college football world, schools and coaches are on a non-stop chase to visit recruits and prospective commits before the "dead period" arrives on January 31. Whenever allowed, college football coaches are always on the road visiting recruits. They visit their schools, drop by their homes, send them mail, call them, text them, tweet to them. It is a relentless pursuit to secure top-notch talent. Simultaneously, coaches have to make sure their existing players are properly developing and improving. They cannot forsake their duties to players already on the team for the sake of landing new recruits.

Economic development is similar. Like coaches, economic developers hit the recruiting trail showing prospects (potential businesses and investors) the possibilities of "committing" to their communities. Economic developers show prospects how and where they would fit into their town by showing them available sites (buildings and land). Economic developers show them how they could improve and take their operations to the next level (market access, talks with existing businesses, shared success stories). While simultaneously on the home front, making sure existing businesses are growing, expanding, and improving their operations. They cannot forsake their duties to businesses already in the community for the sake of landing new businesses.

It is all about balance. Due to NCAA rules, coaches are limited to when they can recruit throughout the year. In economic development, recruitment can happen anytime, anywhere.

In sports, the end goal is a championship. In economic development, wins come in the form of business re-locations and expansions.

Taking nothing from the seriousness of both professions, this, analogy helps illustrate the intricate relationship between recruitment and retention. Two critical components of both vocations.

By the way, congrats to the Ohio State Buckeyes for winning the College Football Playoff National Championship Monday night!

Congrats are also in order to the Oregon Ducks for beating the odds and making it as far as you did! Hold your heads high!


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