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Joey Deason Guest Commentary

BASEBALL AND ECONOMIC
DEVELOPMENT
JOSEPH P. DEASON

 
It is Sunday evening and as I mentally
prepare myself for the upcoming week and
the challenges that lie ahead, the television
roulette lottery winner landed on the
Sunday night Red Sox vs. the Yankees primetime
game. As I watched the game, my
mind wondered between the game, work,
and specifically the Op-Ed piece due this
week. It has been stated many times that
baseball mirrors life in many aspects and I
would add that it mirrors economic development
as well.
There are many economic development
analogies between the economic development
profession and baseball. None is more
prevalent than “Small Ball vs. Long Ball”
and how communities approach economic
development. In baseball you can manufacture
runs by placing runners on base and
advancing them in a deliberate or methodical
way –defined as “Small Ball”, or you can
attempt to score runs by swinging for the
fence defined as “Long Ball”. Many communities
play for large projects with long
lasting effects and many communities play
for multiple smaller projects with a similar
cumulative long-lasting effects. Is one approach
better or more effective than the
other? It depends on the personality of your
community and your economic development
organization.
The “Long Ball” approach to economic
development certainly grabs more news
headlines. It is much flashier than the “Small
Ball” approach and could be compared to
a walk off grand slam in the bottom of the
9th. “Long Ball” brings large rewards in
the form of huge investment numbers and
job counts that places your community and
economic development in a spotlight, which
can change your community forever. These
projects normally but not always demand
large capacities of water, sewer, gas, rail,
transportation, and electricity. Examples
of “Long Ball” successes here in the State of
Mississippi include Nissan, Toyota, Paccar,
Yokohama, and Continental most recently.
These are big wins that are incentivized by
the State and Locals using big money via the
Mississippi Legislature enacting the Major
Mississippi Economic Incentive Authority
(MMEIA).
The “Small Ball” approach to economic
development is typically much smaller in
scale and makes a community stronger by
having multiple wins over a much shorter
period of time. Examples include Fastenal
warehouse and distribution center, ACCO
Brand expansion, Peco Foods Inc., and
Vertex Aerospace headquarters expansion.
These wins can range in jobs and investments
from 25 to 250 jobs and $2.5 million
to $75 million investments. Staying with our
baseball analogy this is compared to hitting
bunts, singles, doubles, and a triple every
now and then. One of the most important
aspects, outside of the jobs and investment,
is the ability to diversify your community
with multiple independent industries that
may not be prone to the same economic
downturns should the economy hit a bump
in the road. “Small Ball’ it is team effort
with regards to incentives from the State
and locals, but the cost of the wins are at a
much smaller scale.
So how your community approaches economic
development is relevant to what your
community desires. Does your community
desire to win the big one or win multiple
smaller successes? There are advantages to
each approach and technically no disadvantages
to either as long as you are in the game.
If you are in the game then you have the
chance to stand at the plate and you have the
chance for a base hit or a grand slam! Both
approaches will make the community a better
place by creating jobs and investment for
those willing to suit up.
As for my approach for Madison County………
I want to hit for the cycle!

 

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