90-day prescription for Richmond’s economy

gregwingfieldThe Greater Richmond Partnership is reevaluating its game plan.

The public-private economic development agency completed a 90-day plan to help Richmond remain a top place for businesses. (Richmond was just anointed a top 10 metro area for business by MarketWatch) Perhaps the most visible aspect of the partnership’s work is to promote the region to outside companies looking to relocate or expand.“Finance and insurance [industries] is a business we have been trying to attract,” said Director Greg Wingfield. “Given what’s happening, should we forgo that for a while and put time and energy and resources into an area that has a higher growth potential?”
The plan will review and retool the agency’s four goals to promote business in Richmond: attract new business, retain and expand existing businesses, develop talent and support small business and entrepreneurs.

“Within each of those, we are tweaking and looking, making no assumptions that our current direction is the best direction,” Wingfield said.

The partnership has been working on the plan for the past month, receiving input from other economic development groups and local governments.

The idea for a fresh approach came up after an economic development trip to Europe. Wingfield said Europe is facing some of the same recessionary pressures as the United States.

“Should we be reevaluating some of our industry targets in light of the shifts and changes we are seeing globally?” Wingfield asked.

Another impetus for putting together a plan of action was to address the massive wave of layoffs in the Richmond area. Wingfield said that more than 5,000 workers have lost their jobs this year and that his office has been inundated with calls from displaced workers and hopeful entrepreneurs.

The 90-day plan includes an online job board for laid-off workers that compiles listings from local and national websites. Wingfield said it should be up and running in the next 30 to 40 days.

The partnership is putting together task forces this week that will look at each of the four mission areas. Wingfield said the plan is a working document and encouraged people to read the plan and submit their ideas and suggestions.

You can read the plan here.

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