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What type of city do you want to live in?

Avatar photo by Casey Woods, Executive Director | May 20, 2017
ommunicating business and economic strategies to the public is difficult.  In a sound bite society known for oversimplifying complex concepts, we need more effective ways to engage the public in interactive conversations about community economic priorities.  A recent conversation with an ESU Professor highlighted a conversation mechanism used in his class, and we wanted to test the strategy with this group prior to potentially integrating the message in community outreach.
So, please listen to the following scenario.  The discussion that follows is an interactive test to determine community priorities and methods of communicating with the general public.


The choice of four cities:


Imagine four different cities that you can potentially be a part of.  We will call these cities “W City”, “O City”, “R City”, and “S City”.  You need to prioritize the type of city you want to be involved in within this test.  Obviously, these cities are over simplifications of the complex and layered elements that communities must engage, but bare with us, and please click the link after the city descriptions to rank your city preference.


“W City” is a worker city.  People in W City work in factories and other production facilities owned by people that live in another community.  Because owners live in another community, W City citizens strive for middle class status, but have a hard time obtaining significant wealth.  Infrastructure demands are significant to support facilities, and recruitment of businesses typically includes tax abatement and cash incentives.


“O City” is an owner city.  People in O City own production operations in other cities, and have owner operated businesses within O City.  Owner based cities are typically a little denser, and create professional jobs with higher potential incomes.  O City focuses on helping businesses that start in the city (local ownership) grow.  Growth is limited to the rate in which locally owned businesses can start and sustain.


“R City” is a raw material city.  People in R City produce raw materials that are then shipped outto W City for creation of finished goods.  R City has a variable income depending on the demand for raw materials.  Because income can fluctuate with market demand, a “boom or bust” mentality can exist within business availability and incomes.  Raw materials can be finite, so the impact of raw material sales upon R City’s economy is limited to their supply.


“S City” is a city focused on social services.  Dollars collected from taxes and donations go to organizations that employ individuals to serve those impacted by a variety of societal issues.  Support for entities in S City is constrained by dollars available, but robust social systems can attract residents that may act as unskilled workforce.  Competition for dollars can lead to governance by emergency which may limit long term wealth development.

About the Author

Casey Woods, Executive Director

Before accepting the director position in March of 2009, Casey worked in both retail and agricultural jobs in the family businesses. A lifelong resident of the Emporia Area, Casey was a ten year volunteer for Emporia Main Street prior to his appointment as director. During that time he served as the board president and chair of the Economic Vitality Committee.

Casey also serves as a partner in PlaceMakers, LLC, a consulting firm that routinely works with both large and small communities, and their businesses, to promote sustainable economic growth through community and economic development practices. Casey consults with businesses, organizations and communities to understand their market capacity and fill vacant spaces. He has been involved in two projects that included crowdfunding as a part of their overall business funding strategies, Radius Brewing and Twin Rivers Winery & Gourmet Shoppe.