Just as James Bond forever changed the drinking landscape, Clem Whitaker and Leone Baxter forever changed the political landscape.

Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake well then add a thin slice of lemon peel. It’s the original 007 martini – the Vesper Martini to be exact. And just as James Bond forever changed the drinking landscape, Clem Whitaker and Leone Baxter forever changed the political landscape. With their carefully crafted strategy, disciplined messaging, targeted research and aggressive fundraising, Whitaker and Baxter created the archetypal political campaign playbook used effectively, often ruthlessly since 1934.

And while that campaign playbook has since been adapted to campaigns of all types, the economic development space remains trapped in its decades’ old Schumpeter vs Keynes debate and its less than optimal habit of mapping assets, facilitating communication and pursuing government funding. Entrenched, outdated, and insufficient to address the needs of communities, ec dev can seem stovepiped at best and a zero-sum scrum at worst. In no way is it a chromatic continuum of opportunity dominated by Dealmakers and Champions.

That’s why I’m interested in a new type of campaign – one that harnesses and applies the archetypal political campaigning playbook to the cause of economic opportunity and wealth creation. Applying the Whitaker-Baxter playbook to this new campaign would look something like the following:

Research – Identifying and mapping Dealmaker networks is the lynchpin. Networks of serial entrepreneurs, investors and their affiliated companies play a critical role in driving value creation and shaping the character of robust regional economies. Engaging Dealmakers, together with their vast and interconnected networks, provides a new window into the dynamics within a regional economy as a whole, as well as the entrepreneurial behavior, investor focus and innovation hotspots within specific industry sectors and clusters.

Strategy – Several communities have invested in worthwhile asset mapping and cluster identification efforts. Some have gone further and developed, even implemented economic development strategies that prioritize and support technology-based entrepreneurship. Such strategies, together with bi- and non-partisan political campaign and governing strategies can be evaluated in light of Dealmaker maps, and then incorporated into this new campaign.

Fundraising – Entrepreneurial and startup success requires a full resource continuum, including four fundamental types of capital – physical, intellectual, human and financial.   The best way to tap into and augment that capital continuum is to use Champions to win the support of Dealmakers. By the very nature of their demonstrated time and financial investments, Dealmakers have a vested interest in the success of startups and the expansion of entrepreneurial activity within a region. Champions can help Dealmakers see their position within, and the impact of their actions on, the continuum of philanthropic to profit-based opportunities.

Messaging – Modern marketing efforts, which are paramount to any successful campaign, must be digital, disciplined and definitive. In an era of sound bite simplicity and nano attention spans, the competition to garner support for a cause has never been more challenging.   Committed Champions have the power to convene partners and distribute messaging through owned, earned and paid media channels.

A measure each of four simple ingredients, catalyzed by two core elements – enough to shake the foundations of a vast, though unimaginative landscape.

Anyone up for a campaign?


  1. Great blog series – nice to see a fresh take on supporting value creation in regional and local economies. The notion of applying campaign strategy to mobilizing the social capital created by and within local networks of serial entrepreneurs and investors looks to be novel and pragmatic – much potential. thanks


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