Sunday, October 14, 2007

Growing our Economy

Back in March, I did a post on growing jobs. We have some good news on this front. Last Friday, Oct 12th, there was a conference on Economic Gardening given by Chris Gibbons, who developed the concept for Littleton, Colorado.

I was one of the fortunate few who attended this conference. There were many key players there. The entire Small Business Development Center staff was there. There members of the CVCED, COSADC, the city council, and various other local groups that are actively involved and interested in our local economy. The conference lasted about 4 hours, and at the end of the conference, I could tell that the concepts and ideas presented generated a lot of interest and excitement. I expect to start seeing plans and programs integrate these ideas very soon.

I will be presenting some of my thoughts about the conference and where we go from here in later posts, but for now I am excited. This conference is a milestone in a better approach to growing our economy.

Chris Gibbons has given a name to fast growing, job producing entrepreneurial companies. He calls them gazelles. I think we need to cross the concept of gazelles with the toughness and independence of our local armadillos. We need to become known for our gazelladillos.


  1. I would like to feel secure that all companies are given a fair chance. I am still wondering about what happened with the sprocket company that was to come here. Are companies limited to those that will not pay more than, say, $8/per hour? Why does SITEL pay 50% more than they pay here on the East Coast?


  2. FLC

    If we go with a program like Littletons, all local companies will have equal access to the resources.

    Companies that come here are not limited by the city government or COSADC or any local group on the max they can pay. The council recently upped the minimum average wage for incentive eligibility. The average wage for the Multi-Chem jobs is supposed to be $50,000/year or $25/hour.

    The reason that Sitel pays their people on both coasts more than the do here is the same reason they pay their people in India much less than they pay here. The labor force that they are after is treated pretty much like a commodity, and the wages get caught up in a commodity trap. At the end of the day, they will buy labor like most people buy gas or flour: they get it at the lowest price they can. I will be writing more on this later but for now we have to stop thinking of jobs and labor as being virtually interchangeable. Jobs are not wool or wheat or crude oil.

  3. With the local newspaper now charging employers $219 for an employment ad (in concert with their corporate 'marriage' to a large Internet search company), it is now becoming almost IMPOSSIBLE for San Angelo SMBs to list job openings in the likely source for job seekers.

    In effect, Scripps has fragmented the job seeking market by decoupling the job posters from access to affordable job listings.

  4. Anon, your point is well taken. An important part of any economy is connecting employees with employers. Newspaper classified ads have traditionally been the most cost effective way of making this connection. There does seem to be a problem here.

    I thought, at first, that the $219 was an only rate, so I did some checking. Sure enough, it is. I talked to the classified department. You can get a weeks worth of paper advertisements for about $120, or a single Sunday ad for $59. This from the paper that charges $4.00 for a garage sale ad, and $6.00 to sell a car. There does seem to be a disconnect as far as small business is concerned.

    Looks like small businesses will probably want to use American Classifieds instead. Circulation is not as big, but the price is still reasonable. I am sure I will have more to say later.