Garner speaks to LaFayette Rotary about development

Published 7:35 am Thursday, September 24, 2020

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At its weekly meeting on Wednesday, the LaFayette Rotary Club had an opportunity to learn about economic development from Jay Garner, who is the founder and president of Garner Economics LLC.

Garner spent time in Chambers County about a decade ago, helping the Chambers County Development Authority by doing a targeted industry strategy for the county and found a few different businesses that would help grow the county. The contract with John Soules Foods stemmed from that strategy.

“I have some great memories and experiences here because about a dozen years ago, the Chambers County Development Authority engaged my firm to help them do a strategic plan for Chambers County,” Garner said. “That wasn’t that long ago, so it’s good to be back.”

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Garner spoke for about 25 minutes, discussing his new book “Economic Development Is Not For Amateurs!” that he co-authored with Ross Patten.

Garner met Patten in Covington, Kentucky, where Garner was contracted to create an industry strategy. Patten called Garner after the strategy was completed and asked him if he would want to co-author the book. Patten wanted a book to be written to help educate elected officials and volunteers about economic development.

“That has been a passion of mine for 40 years, and I would love to help you with it,” Garner told Patten during the call.

That phone call was in October, and the book was released at the start of August. The book has sold more than 1,000 copies so far, with the very first copy being sold to Chambers County Development Authority Executive Director Valerie Gray.

The book has eight chapters. Garner called the first chapter, which is titled “Effective Leadership = Community Prosperity,” the most important.

“The one thing that I have seen in the 40 years that I’ve been doing economic development is one common denominator. The quality of your public and private leadership drives economic development success,” Garner said. “If it’s good leadership, it’s going to drive economic development into your community. If it’s poor leadership, it’s going to drive economic development out of your community. “

The other biggest takeaway from chapter one are the three tenets of economic development, which are certainty, simplicity and speed, which are what businesses focus on while determining if their business can survive and thrive in the new area.

The second chapter is titled “No Product, No Project,™” which is a phrase that Garner trademarked because he believes in it so much.

“What do we mean by product? Product is anything linked to your industrial parks, any buildings you have. If you’re trying to attract tourism, then your tourism assets are all considered product,” Garner said. “You can’t sell from an empty wagon. That’s why we say No Product, No Project™ is important especially since speed to market is a key component of economic development success.”

The book says that 85% of all project searches start with an existing building.

Chapter three is something that the CCDA has already done, which is “Market Regionally, Sell Locally.”

“Economic Development Is Not For Amateurs!” can be found on Amazon.

LaFayette Rotary Club Secretary/ Treasurer Josh Yerta also announced that the club’s grant proposal went through for the Martin Theater’s roof. The total cost of the grant is $4,395, which is the maximum allowed for the Rotary Club grant.