KINGMAN – In addition to providing thoughts on how Kingman can work to develop a successful economic development department at Tuesday’s Council meeting, Interim City Manager Jim Bacon also laid out areas of emphasis for the City to focus on within its strategic plan.
Bacon first noted the importance of business retention and expansion programs.
“Most people when they think about economic development don’t lead with retention and expansion of existing business,” Bacon said. “I always found that interesting and almost amusing because you can find all sorts of studies on what percentage of the jobs created in a community come from retention and expansion efforts, and it’s always between 65-80 percent.”
These efforts would include working toward keeping businesses in Kingman as well as expanding them. Bacon said it helps build cooperation between public and private sectors, answering the question: What’s local government done for me lately?
Targeted industries identified by Kingman in its 2030 General Plan included aviation, energy, healthcare, manufacturing, mining, motorsports, and transportation and logistics. Bacon mentioned the general plan of Mohave County, which shares numerous targeted industries with Kingman: energy, healthcare, manufacturing, and transportation and logistics.
Bacon said he found it interesting that there was not an alignment between the county’s list and Kingman’s list, and also that tourism was not included.
“The reason that gets to be more and more interesting is typically in a targeted industry strategy communities identify resources which will be committed to those targeted industries,” Bacon said.
In analyzing Utah’s targeted industry “clusters,” Bacon noted Utah’s data-supported claim that those industries which it identified provided better paying jobs, enhanced education and a higher standard of living for individuals working within those industries.
Bacon then moved onto branding and marketing, and how both should play vital roles in an economic development department’s strategy.
“Branding is the use of a name, term, symbol or other feature that identifies one seller from another,” Bacon said. “Marketing is the tasks aimed at creating, keeping and satisfying customers.”
Both fall into the discussion of economic development, Bacon said, because marketing is essential in developing an attraction program for Kingman and both play parts in the development of tourism.
He returned to the discussion on tourism, noting its importance. Examples he gave included hotels, restaurants, museums, shopping and recreational sites such as golf courses and trails. According to Bacon, communities are beginning to realize that tourism can play an important role in economic development strategies, and as such destination tourism is becoming competitive.
“It’s a tough, tough business,” Bacon said. “When we’re thinking about a good tourism strategy, it’s OK obviously to do destination tourism, but maybe we want to broaden it out a little bit; good things to do while you’re here.”
Lastly, he touched on the increasingly important role of entrepreneurship and innovation resulting from the tech-boom in the late 1990s.
“Businesses formed around entrepreneurship and innovation are likely to not only add jobs but also make positive contributions to the community,” Bacon said.
Bacon said the next steps for Kingman to take in its economic development are to create an economic development advisory committee and to continue the search for a permanent economic development director.