Chromatic greys, such as khaki, olive, oxblood and glaucous, result from the careful mixture of complementary colors. They offer a measured progression from one color to another and highlight the possibilities contained along the color spectrum. By contrast, achromatic greys are technically colorless combinations of black and white.
Humans find comfort in a binary world of black and white with the occasional splash of achromatic grey. Cat or dog, with an occasional hamster? But, what about fish, birds and turtles? Binary is simple, easy to understand and comfortable. But what about the unexpected pleasure in Fifty Shades of Grey?
Economic development can and should be pursued as a chromatic continuum of opportunity rather than a bifurcated, achromatic choice between attraction-retention and grow your own strategies. The continuum of opportunity includes chances to put money to work across a disparate spectrum of greenfield, brownfield, mainstreet, innovation-based, startup, growth and expansion projects via philanthropic, not-for-profit and for profit means. Manufacturers need factories. Universities need labs. Startups need offices. Employees need clothes. Families need food. And cutting across each of these needs are the common needs of every company – investment, financing and business services of all sorts.
As noted previously, local, regional and national governments can serve as beneficial, albeit limited and insufficient, sources of investment for infrastructure. Government programs sometimes can also help mitigate financial risks and address various market inefficiencies. But the economic develop continuum of opportunity is best pursued when Dealmakers, rather than governments, serve as the primary source money, talent and energy. Dealmakers, by the very nature of their past activities, demonstrate a desire, willingness and ability to take actions that benefit communities. Dealmakers identify and fill gaps in market services and customer demand. They create value through altruistic and economic means. They generate and distribute wealth. Their motivations are personal and social. Most important, their repeated investment in individuals and communities are tangible and sustained.
Dealmakers contribute along the entire continuum of opportunity, but often do so without concern for or interest in how their individual or small group activities influence the broader economy. This can be especially true when Dealmakers are relatively young and inexperienced, when regional economies are relatively small and underperforming, or when social, cultural, political and geographic boundaries inhibit the free flowing exchange of human and financial capital. In these instances, when the primordial conditions exist, but the catalyst is missing, Champions are essential to create the development scaffold.
Champions are a rare breed that command the respect and capture the attention of their peers, subordinates and elders. Champions lead by humble example. They understand the interplay of policy and politics, but channel their energy into actions that have a tangible economic benefit for individuals and society alike. There is no specific age or wealth requirement. Rather, Champions are effective at convening and inspiring highly accomplished professionals from across the political, economic, social and cultural spectrum to coordinate and tie their efforts to the continuum of opportunity.
Through the careful cultivation of Dealmakers and Champions, the achromatic world of zero-sum, government-driven economic development can be eclipsed by a chromatic world of broad-based growth, wealth and prosperity.
Who are the Champions in your region?