There are probably as many reasons for why those who live and work in Norwich have chosen to do so as there are people here in the city. But, if you found yourself in charge of selling Norwich, by the pound or otherwise, to those beyond its borders, I think you'd want to know with whom you were speaking and what it was they are most interested in. In this Brave New World Order, a one size fits all slide show or PowerPoint presentation is just so passe.
By City Charter, Chapter V, Section 1, our mayor is a catalyst for economic development-a cheerleader, a bully pulpit pounder and a salesperson of the first order. As challenging as describing the taste of an orange is to someone who has never had one-how do you define what Norwich is, and in this age of non-stop competitive advantage, how do you present the city to someone in an industry, manufacturing, service or otherwise, in an honest and most flattering light with the object of getting them to choose us?
This is really what the Office of the Mayor and those with whom he works on economic development, should have been focusing on when invitations to visit for 'economic development initiatives' were extended by the Asian Pacific Association as well as the City of Wuxi in The People's Republic.
As reported in local newspapers, those extending the invites would pay for food and lodging and the mayor, or his designated hitter, would be responsible for transportation. I applaud the immediate consultation with the Ethics Commission in terms of propriety and appearances, but respectfully disagree with their ruling because they shouldn't have ever needed to have made one.
IF, both the I and F should be capitalized, the Mayor's job is to stimulate growth, there should be line items in the city budget to support that mission, including travel, lodging, meals, pony rides (hey, you never know!). Every budget season, those expenditures should be analyzed and evaluated for return on investment-what did we spend and what did we get? Just as we should approach every program across our city budget.
Should any of these trips happen, and I feel very strongly that they should, what's the message the Mayor is carrying with him to the far corners of the globe? What points should he be making in a presentation and what medium best accomplishes and encompasses that? What should he be selling? Is Norwich a dessert topping or a floor polish? Should he have the same pitch for a high tech firm looking to relocate as he would for a heavy industry seeking a satellite location?
How far along is the city of Norwich and the Mayor in having presentations he can do, ranging from a full-court press at a targeted business to a casual elevator ride conversation. Does the city's website now offer any assistance that would help sell Norwich on a global stage? Why does a city that celebrated its 350th anniversary last year pass the 'Who Cares?' Test this year and beyond?
We need to accept that sending anyone, anywhere, no matter how sincere his intentions, to various and sundry locales for 'economic development initiatives' is NOT going to work. When you don't know where you're going any road will get you there. The moment has arrived to plan our work, define our goals, refine our message, identify our messenger and stop talking about 'doing things' and instead, get things done.