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  • As printed in the Daily Record

Do You Have E.D.?

Do you have E.D? This is a very important question to every business in the region! By E.D. of course I mean Economic Development. Maybe I have your attention for a minute now? Economic development, what is it? The Business Dictionary defines it, in part, as “progress in an economy, or the qualitative measure of this.” Also, “general improvement in living standards.” Economic development is not a solitary thing. Economic development consists of things, plural. Another definition, courtesy of Useful Community Development is “The cultivation of activities that create a net gain of money into the community.” They go on to write, “It’s only economic development if it brings outside money into your community.”

So, what are some elements that bring outside money into our communities? Or, conversely, what are some elements that keep outside money from being invested in our communities? Now, before regular readers stop because they think I’m headed down the same old saw, hang on just a minute. You are only partially right. It is true that what I hear on the streets are concerns regarding things I classify as public schools, public safety and public works. “Public works” being a big bucket relating to government services that range from parks, to potholes, to permits, and more. As noted above, economic development is many things. And it is different things to different people. My question to you is: do you have economic development in your community? I’m not asking about activities. I’m not personally questioning the effort of those in our communities whose daily work is in the business of economic development. I know many people who do this and do good work. I am asking about the result. Let me paraphrase a clause from a lease I was reading a couple of weeks ago, performance will be measured on results, not the frequency or method of the efforts. So, I ask you, based on results do you have economic development?

Some readers, if they read this far, may be muttering to themselves “what’s your point, Jeff?” Well, my point is that the commercial real estate industry relies on, indeed is a part of, economic development. It is the net gain of money in the community that allows for the healthy growth of the community. Net gain of money includes net gains in jobs. Gains in jobs generate needs for business to grow, or new businesses to need places to do business. This growth fills empty office spaces, or retail shops, or warehouses. And growth in jobs and businesses creates need for new office buildings, retail buildings, industrial buildings, apartment buildings, and houses. People involved in the commercial real estate industry, and the residential real estate industry, benefit from economic development. That’s the point. AND … it is the net gain of new money into the community that allows for re-development and re-investment to occur in downtowns and mature areas of towns EVEN WHILE there is new investment in ground-up development. New development and re-development are both investments. The two are NOT mutually exclusive. A mix, a balance of some sort, is required for a healthy economy in a community. I maintain that while there are pockets of re-development in Little Rock, the mix of investment in re-development and the investment in the mature areas of Little Rock is lacking. So, I ask Little Rock residents; do you have E.D.?

REMINDER, on October 18 there will be a Commercial Real Estate Luncheon. Well … OK, maybe “luncheon” is a little bit of over-spin. It is actually a box lunch in a former classroom space at Kirkpatrick Plaza. You should be there just the same! We’ve had a series going talking about commercial real estate submarkets. Q2 was Midtown with a special presentation on The District at Midtown. Q3 was North Little Rock with a focus on Argenta. October is the Q4 meeting and is about west Little Rock with a special presentation about the new, under-construction, headquarters of Bank OZK. These lunches are hosted by the Arkansas Chapter of Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM) and Little Rock REALTORS® Association (LRRA). Everyone is invited. Brokers, lenders, contractors, engineers, insurance agents, closing agents, you name it. Lunch starts at 11:30 a.m. so that folks can mingle, network and make deals before the program starts at 1:00 p.m. You can register online at Register now! It is cheaper in advance than it is at the door.

If you missed the Arkansas Real Estate Issues Lunch held at Pleasant Valley Country Club on September 18, you missed a great program. The candidates for the 2nd District Congressional District and the candidates for Little Rock mayor answered questions from Roby Brock about the real estate industry in Little Rock and Central Arkansas. Whatever your concerns, worries, hopes, or interests are relating to the future of homes and businesses in Little Rock, the next mayor will have a hand in addressing them, or not. If you wonder about the importance to Little Rock of this mayoral election, please re-read the first two paragraphs of this column.

Please forgive the brevity of the writing effort this month. With an unanticipated wave of work and all of kiddo’s soccer, volleyball, tennis, swim, and fourth grade homework, I just smooth ran out of time to wade off into transactions and planning applications before deadline. Come on back for the November column. I’ll catch up on those things, and maybe some others.

Tips and suggestions, well most of them anyway, are appreciated. Hope you found something interesting in the column this month. Check back again next month for the things that didn’t get included here this time and that pop up between now and then.

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