November 2010

From the Editor-in-Chief

The editorial theme for this issue of the OSBR is Economic Development and I am very pleased to welcome Saad Bashir, Manager of the Economic Development Branch at City of Ottawa, as Guest Editor.

We encourage readers to share articles of interest with their colleagues, and to provide their comments either online or directly to the authors.

The editorial theme for the upcoming December issue of the OSBR is Humanitarian Open Source and the guest editor will be Leslie Hawthorn, Open Source Outreach Manager at Oregon State University Open Source Lab. Submissions will be accepted up to November 15th. January's theme is The Business of Open Source and submissions are due by December 1st. Please contact me if you are interested in making a submission.

Chris McPhee

Editor-in-Chief


From the Guest Editor

Economic development: these two simple words are excessively used and often misused in many contexts, including municipal government. In this issue of the OSBR, we offer a mainly municipal perspective under which we discuss what economic development means and what it can deliver.

Economic development acts as a headlight that can guide a city like Ottawa through a fog of national and international competition and uncertain economic realities. It is an overarching role that nudges the local government towards smart decisions around long-term investments such as infrastructure.

Achieving sustainable economic development for Ottawa means investment in the creation of a toolkit that consists of tourism development, community and social economic development, transportation access, entrepreneurship support, investment attraction, workforce development and academia, export development, and performance measurement. Such a toolkit is what encourages partnerships between stakeholders and facilitates the environment for healthy economic development conditions.

This last element, performance measurement, deserves honest attention but is often found missing in an economic development plan. Just like a private sector firm that must always have its eyes on its bottom line and profitability, a city must constantly measure its economic development execution and adapt to changing circumstances. This can be achieved through a comprehensive scorecard or dashboard that analyzes trends over time, as well as compares Ottawa's performance versus its competitors.

Economic development is no different than the business development unit of a firm that not only has the responsibility of creating market opportunities for its company’s products, but also the crucial task of conveying back-market intelligence. From the City of Ottawa’s perspective, the product we should be selling to both local residents and international community is the city brand, including business, tourism, and academia, as well as gathering competitive intelligence to continuously tweak our offering.

Similar to cities whose future is dependent and linked to natural resources, Ottawa’s economic future is tied to a rare resource as well. However, it is not found under the earth but between the ears of the knowledge-based workers that drive innovation in Ottawa. In today’s environment, where both the knowledge-based work force and investment capital are highly fluid, the economic development challenge is to relentlessly retain and grow this knowledge resource.

Economic development is the type of investment that will help Ottawa earn its way to be one of the world’s leading centres for business, tourism, and academia. Conversely, lack of economic development vision and investment will undoubtedly leave the city’s fortunes to luck.

In this issue, the authors provide diverse perspectives and insights that will help all of us address the challenges of economic development and the knowledge-based economy.

Robert Poole, entrepreneur and business intelligence consultant, describes the creation of a regional economic development platform. With all stakeholders deriving benefits from their participation in a transparent and open process, the platform is designed to meet the challenges faced by regional governments.

George Brown, President of the Ottawa Community Loan Fund, describes the importance of microcredit for small businesses in North America and illustrates how it acts as a stimulant for economic development.

Bob Yates, Senior Partner at Yates, Thorn & Associates, examines the costs and benefits of major event hosting on economic development, including the decision-making processes and long-term strategies that can lead to future opportunities.

Sonia Riahi, Manager at Ottawa Innovation Challenge, reviews the diversity of Ottawa's youth entrepreneurship programs to illustrate their benefits to economic development through employment creation, product and service innovation, market competition, community revitalization, and income generation.

Ian Graham, Founder of TheCodeFactory business incubator, describes the shift to a knowledge economy and the corresponding impacts on business models. To meet the challenges brought by these changes, he proposes a stakeholder-based model of business incubation.

David J. French, intellectual property attorney and CEO of Second Counsel Services, argues that Canadian industry should not increase patenting efforts to meet the challenges of foreign competition. Rather, businesses should focus on innovating to deliver value and meet the needs of their customers.

Saad Bashir

Guest Editor

 

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