By Jimmy Randolph, CEO
Since its inception in 2014, SAGA has been committed to the belief that prepared communities win. And “winning” can really be boiled down to one simple word: Opportunity.
And if opportunity means creating wealth in our community through good jobs and increased capital investment so that every resident of Lee County has access to meaningful, good-paying jobs that give them the quality of life they desire for themselves and their families, then it is imperative to retain the jobs and investment that already exist, while attracting good new jobs and additional capital investment as well.
With clear agreement on what winning means, SAGA went to work preparing…
We built a robust and highly responsive Economic Development Team with the knowledge and skills to compete at the highest level.
We invested in technology and other resources to support staff efforts.
We built strong partnerships at the local, regional, state and federal levels.
We invested in infrastructure.
We developed a competitive performance-based incentive policy.
We built buildings.
In short, we got prepared!
And even as we were preparing, we invested in marketing, we told our story far and wide, proactively putting in the miles and the hours at trade shows, knocking on site consultants’ doors, chasing down leads, and responding to inquiries. And then we won a project, and we won another project, and we’ve won a few more since then…
We were right in our belief that prepared communities win… But
When you sell a shell building, your building inventory is reduced, and you’re potentially a little less “prepared” than you were before;
When a large new manufacturing facility ramps up its hiring, the available labor supply is reduced, and you’re potentially a little less prepared than you were before;
The point is this:
Being Prepared is a Journey, not a Destination, and sustained economic development success requires constant effort, diligence and re-investment in order to remain competitive.
And, as we consider the future of economic development in Broadway, Sanford, and Lee County, it is critical that we as community leaders think about where we are in the preparedness journey at the moment, and consider what we as a community are capable of doing to maintain a competitive level of preparedness for the future.
We have a clearly defined vision and mission, a strong team, and a solid track record of success, so what about the future? Where do we go from here? This Spring, under the leadership of its Executive Committee, SAGA is updating its program of work to ensure that we maintain the highest possible level of preparedness. We will be working with all of you to identify the most effective and efficient way forward in each of these critical areas of economic development in the next three to five years:
- Product Development and Site Readiness
- Workforce Development
With all our recent economic development success, Sanford, Broadway and Lee County are clearly on the cusp of dramatic population growth. Thanks to your leadership, and thanks to SAGA’s remarkably successful economic development efforts, we are strategically positioned to manage that inevitable growth in ways that other communities have not.
With strategic public-private partnerships, smart land use decisions, wise investments in infrastructure, and effective marketing, we can continue to dramatically grow the tax base and provide valuable and rewarding career opportunities to our current and future citizens, without sacrificing the charm and character of the community we treasure. And we look forward to working alongside each of you to make it happen.