Examples of Regional Collaboration Models

Global Tampa Bay

Regional collaboration for Pasco, Pinellas, and Hillsborough counties. According to Bill Cronin, President/CEO, Pasco Economic Development Council, 95 percent of the 3-county activities in export promotion and FDI (such as trade missions, export counseling, events, etc.) are conducted together. (It’s not 100 percent because they have some activities that predated the alliance, such as Sister City relationships.) The president of each county organization heads the collaboration. And each county has assigned a staff member to the collaboration to deliver services. The 3 counties have also hired – and collectively pay for – a dedicated coordinator for the collaboration.

Cronin offered 2 “secrets” to their success:

  • Keep it Simple. The 3 counties have 3 different structures in terms of organization. We [Global Tampa Bay] don’t get into the weeds. We’re constantly talking, [including about] which area works best [for a lead]. We keep it simple. We don’t box ourselves in. For example, for counties – we can’t pay wages to someone who lives in a different county. So, we each had to figure out a way to help pay for [the shared coordinator]. Everyone does what they have to do.”
  • Collaboration raises the stakes. If you pool money, you’ll get folks that are engaged. Stakeholders will want a return. It makes people pay attention because they’ve got skin in the game.”

Milwaukee 7

Regional organization representing 7 counties in southeast Wisconsin: “It’s a partnership…M7 is the front end of that activity. They find out about the interest and distribute that info to the counties…If the site selection is inclusive of a number of counties: M7’s role is to take all the county submissions and package them together into one for the site selector…I guess you could say their primary value is for recruitment effort. But they facilitate the communication among multiple, diverse counties. The [7] county governments are all over the board—from 1-individual offices to 12-person offices.” – Jenny Trick, Executive Director, Racine County Economic Development Corporation

Alabama Export Alliance

Collaboration across the entire state of Alabama: 12 organizations including U.S. Department of Commerce, Alabama Department of Commerce and Department of Agriculture and Industries, and local organizations, such as the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce and the Port of Huntsville. “In Alabama, my government and non-profit partners are critical to getting my job done…For all our partners: we get access to their clients. And that access gives them legitimacy in the eyes of their clients—’we’re in partnership with the DOC.’ That legitimacy helps, for example, with event promotion. We do cross-promotion of events, activities, facilitation of sponsorships…Alabama is a big state: 8 hours from one end to the other. Working together means we can cover the entire state and help clients everywhere. I’ll travel to the other end, if one of my partners says, you should come talk to these guys. And vice versa.” – Robert Stackpole, USEAC, Alabama

“We create a yearly trade strategy. So that everyone is moving in the same direction. We’re not territorial. This includes: calling on companies, putting together programs, etc … We talk to each other nearly daily. [And] we value each other’s insight and agreement.” – Hilda Lockhart, Division Director, Alabama DOC, International Trade Division

Kansas City Area Development Corp

“A high-profile example is the KCADC—Kansas City Area Development Corp.They have a very strong regional presence. They are high functioning and strongly funded. They’re driven by the metro area (Kansas City) but the rural areas benefit from this regional effort. So, an FDI lead might come in to the KCADC and they’ll disperse it to the local communities to take action.” Jason Vangalis (Ady Advantage), Regional Consultant

“Greater Kansas City EDC — they are less about FDI, but they illustrate this core concept of understanding themselves. They go through a process every few years of ‘who are we? What are we good at?’ And they see this in the context of how the world is changing…” – Chris Steele, COO & President North America, Investment Consulting Associates (global management consultants)

From the KCADC website: KCADC is a private, non-profit organization “supported by more than 250 top corporations and 50-plus city and county partners…charged with representing the economic interests of the entire two-state (KS, MO), 18-county Greater Kansas City region of 2.5 million”.

  • “The client’s view of metro Kansas City will be one of a smooth, seamless whole, united behind an effort to successfully locate the client in our community.”
  • “Competition for these clients among our community partners is brokered through KCADC in order to present the best possible business opportunity for the client.”
  • “A success anywhere in the metro is a success shared by all.”

PUL Alliance in Mississippi

Highlighted in a National Association of Counties report (NACo, 2014, p.23) as an “example of effective regional marketing and business recruitment,” which “produced results that would have been very difficult to achieve by these rural counties acting individually.”

  • “… attracted a new $800 million Toyota manufacturing plant in 2011. The plant employs 2,000 people and on-site suppliers have an additional 500 workers. This is turning into an auto manufacturing cluster. Seven major suppliers, such as producers of plastics, metals, and auto parts companies, have opened nearby since 2011, employing 1,500 people in the area. In 2012, the Mississippi Development Authority projected that the full production at the Toyota plant would create 10,000 direct and indirect jobs.”

From the PUL website:

  • Made up of: Pontotoc, Union, and Lee Counties
  • Developed and marketed “large-scale industrial site suitable for automotive or other major impact industries.”
  • Formed in 2001. In 2003, it “became the State of Mississippi’s first regional economic development alliance.”
  • In 2007 Toyota announced a $1.3B manufacturing plant

Bluegrass Economic Advancement Movement (Kentucky)

Jeanine Duncliffe, Director of International Economic Development for Louisville Forward, a leader in the BEAM effort, described this collaboration:

  • Led by the mayors of Louisville and Lexington, BEAM has strong political leadership and support.
  • Although 5 organizations were designated the core group, she said someone must own the effort and set the general direction, while working with partners. This has been Duncliffe, who described care and feeling of the collaboration as taking an extensive amount of time, which should not be underestimated. All this, despite the fact that the collaboration has no budget line within Louisville forward: “[it is] mostly an unfunded initiative.”
  • BEAM includes 22 counties, which have significant variation in capacity. She cautions that regional organizers must tread carefully: too large a group with too many conflicting interests makes it very difficult to find common interests and achieve progress.

Louisville’s BEAM website:

  • Led by the cities of Louisville and Lexington to increase exports and foreign direct investment.
  • Launched by the mayors of Louisville and Lexington in 2011, partners include local, state, and federal organizations working together to increase local firms’ access to foreign markets and connect with foreign companies investing in the U.S.

Regionalism in Europe

Future Place Leadership; “Business Attraction Management for Cities and Regions- Handbook of strategies, tools and activities” (p.43):

  • “Bringing several municipalities together in a regional partnership to attract businesses is a common trend in Nordic and European countries. The purpose is typically to increase the deal flow of business opportunities, enhance brand recognition and pool resources.” The report elaborates on different models for collaboration, considerations, and success factors.


For More Information

National Association of Counties Strong economies, resilient economies – The role of counties in economic development”; NACo Why counties matter paper series, issue 1, 2014

Future Place Leadership; Nordic management consulting firm, formerly known as Tendensor International. “Business Attraction Management For Cities And Regions– Handbook of strategies, tools and activities”