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Podcast Episode # 126: 1Berkshire's Wraparound Approach to Economic Development with Ben Lamb

Dad, gardener, former City Councilor: And you thought your job was hard?

Dane Carlson
Dane Carlson
4 min read
Podcast Episode # 126: 1Berkshire's Wraparound Approach to Economic Development with Ben Lamb

Table of Contents

Episode # 126 of the Econ Dev Show is live.

In this Econ Dev Show episode, Dane Carlson has an intriguing chat with Ben Lamb, the innovative VP of Economic Development at 1Berkshire. Ben paints a vivid picture of how the Berkshires seamlessly intertwines economic growth with tourism, spotlighting its unique stance as a rural yet vibrant economic hub.

Ben's eclectic journey – from biology and environmental studies to a pivotal role in economic development – brings a novel lens to the discussion. He introduces us to the holistic idea of "wraparound economic development," where the focus is not just on creating jobs or growing businesses, but also addressing essential community needs like housing and transit. It's a tale of turning diverse experiences into a unified force for regional enhancement.

The dialogue delves into the demographic evolution and economic dynamics of the Berkshires, particularly post-pandemic shifts and its emerging allure for a diverse populace. Ben emphasizes the importance of connection and cooperation across geographic and industry boundaries, positioning the Berkshires as a strategic nexus for innovation and culture in the Northeast.

For anyone passionate about the intersections of community, creativity, and economic strategy, this episode is a goldmine of insights, showcasing how adaptability and collaboration fuel regional prosperity. Ben's journey and approach offer a beacon for economic developers seeking to enrich their communities with depth, resilience, and inclusivity.

Listen now.

The Econ Dev Show is brought to you by Dane's other project: Sitehunt.

Sitehunt is the AI-enhanced platform for building a comprehensive economic development property database, enabling hyper efficient RFI responses.

It is specifically designed (and priced) for both regional EDOs and very small and budget restricted communities.

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Great Quotes

Some great quotes from the episode:

  1. "We're kind of a unicorn when it comes down to the work we do, blending economic development with tourism under one umbrella." - Reflecting on the unique structure and multifaceted mission of 1Berkshire.
  2. "It depends on the day, it depends on the season... tourism and hospitality drive our regional economy significantly." - Discussing the variability and importance of tourism in the Berkshires.
  3. "Our approach to economic development is like wraparound services... addressing all those peripheral services and cross-cutting issues." - Describing the comprehensive strategy behind their economic development efforts.
  4. "We are a connective tissue organization, trying to bring together partners and stakeholders." - On the collaborative ethos of 1Berkshire in fostering economic growth.
  5. "No two days are the same... we cover that spectrum, aiming to be relevant and high impact for our rural region." - Ben on the diversity of his daily tasks and the overarching goals of their work.
  6. "We're telling one story locally and another one statewide... aiming to align perceptions with reality to get the resources we need." - Explaining the nuanced communication strategy to address local and state-level needs and perceptions.
  7. "I've never believed in a straight path... I took opportunities as they availed themselves to me." - Ben's reflection on his unconventional journey to economic development.
  8. "Make a friend before you need a friend." - Emphasizing the value of building relationships and networks proactively in the field of economic development.
  9. "We've got this idea of being at the intersection of innovation and creativity... turning it into a brand for our future economy." - On positioning the Berkshires as a strategic nexus for economic and cultural growth.
  10. "We aim to aggregate people around common issues and causes... we're not just building an economy, but a community." - Highlighting the community-centric philosophy underpinning their economic development initiatives.

Actionable Strategies

  1. Leveraging Regional Assets for Combined Economic and Tourism Development:
    • Strategy: Ben highlights how 1Berkshire merges economic development with tourism by leveraging regional assets. Economic developers can adopt this strategy by identifying and promoting unique local assets that can drive both economic growth and tourism. For example, if a region has historical landmarks, natural beauty, or unique cultural events, these can be integrated into a broader economic development strategy that attracts both businesses and tourists.
    • Implementation: To implement this, an economic developer should start with a comprehensive asset mapping exercise to identify resources that can be promoted. Following this, creating partnerships with local businesses, tourism boards, and marketing teams can help develop cohesive branding and marketing strategies. Tailored events and initiatives that showcase the region's strengths can further bridge economic development and tourism, providing a dual boost to the local economy.
  2. Wraparound Economic Development Approach:
    • Strategy: Ben discusses a 'wraparound' approach to economic development, which means considering a wide array of factors and services that support both businesses and the community at large, such as housing, transportation, and workforce development. This holistic approach ensures that economic growth benefits all sectors and community members.
    • Implementation: Economic developers can implement this strategy by first conducting a needs assessment to identify gaps in services and opportunities for growth across different sectors. Building a coalition of stakeholders from various sectors--including business, government, education, and non-profit organizations--can foster collaborative problem-solving. Regularly reviewing and adjusting strategies based on community feedback and changing needs will also be crucial for the long-term success of this approach.
  3. Building Strategic Partnerships and Networks:
    • Strategy: Emphasizing the importance of networking and collaboration, Ben advocates for making friends before needing them, suggesting that strong relationships can lead to more successful economic development efforts. By connecting with other economic developers, organizations, and potential partners, one can build a support network that facilitates information exchange and collaborative opportunities.
    • Implementation: Economic developers can start by identifying potential partners both within and outside their immediate region who share similar goals or have complementary resources. This could include other economic development organizations, educational institutions, private sector leaders, and community groups. Engaging in regular dialogue, attending relevant conferences, and participating in joint initiatives can strengthen these relationships. Additionally, establishing formal partnerships or collaborative agreements can solidify these connections and pave the way for joint projects or resource sharing, enhancing the impact of economic development initiatives.
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Dane Carlson Twitter

Founder/Host of Econ Dev Show. Also: Sitehunt CEO and economic development consultant in Greater Houston, Texas.


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