Thomas P. Miller & Associates is a 31-year-old firm that consults in the workforce-talent and economic development arenas. We have had the good fortune to advise economic development organizations around the country on issues ranging from attracting new industry to innovative ways to bring broadband to rural communities. In normal times, good research, experience and smart partnering will produce a good result no matter what the issue.

Today’s reality, facing down a pandemic, is anything but normal. Not only must we be vigilant in protecting our families and loved ones from a deadly virus, but we also are confronted by the temporary shut-down of our economy. The impact on Main Street will be devastating both in economic and psychological terms.

Today’s reality calls for adaptive responses, perseverance and innovative collaboration. It is remarkable to see how quickly many economic development organizations have shifted their routines—instinctively understanding that business as usual will not deal with the scale of the current economic disruption. For example, the Indy Chamber established a Rapid Response Hub within days of seeing the potential impact of COVID-19 on small businesses. Rapid Response Hub is an online platform providing real time information and resources for small businesses. One Columbus, the 11-county economic development organization for the greater Columbus, Ohio, region, has created a COVID-19 landing page on its website, providing important web links to national, state and local resources. In addition, the landing page includes a link to a survey asking businesses to document how they have been impacted by this crisis. These and many other economic development organizations understand they are critical in assisting overwhelmed businesses as they begin their very real fight for survival.

Active, ongoing and focused communication now seems critical. Like Indianapolis and Columbus, finding new methods for conveying critical information to those that need it most is now the mission. Tailoring information packages, perhaps weekly, that inform local and organizational leaders as they adopt new policies and program responses for those issues most impacting them is now our mission. Examples include highlighting best practices in responding to local workforce displacement, or small businesses adapting to temporary closure and/or loss of customers; preparing for future social and economic impacts; and leveraging federal, state, local and private resources to generate long-term resiliency. All of these are relevant topics given today’s reality. We are all learning new behavior—as individuals and organizations. We look forward to contributing and partnering with IEDC members as we strive to adapt and persevere.

Thomas P. Miller & Associates is a workforce development and economic development consulting firm.


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