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Livingston County looking at bringing in rural economy expert

Published: Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013 10:13 a.m. CDT

(MCT) — PONTIAC — An expert on rural economic development may be considered to provide a fresh perspective for the Greater Livingston County Economic Development Council.

Frank Knott, president of Vital Economy, an economic development group that specializes in counseling rural communities and counties, met with more than 100 business and community leaders this week in Pontiac.

“We had a great visit and there was a lot of information exchanged,” said economic development council CEO Adam Dontz. “Frank’s role was to come in as a speaker, but throughout the day we discussed goals and actions and ways to get to where we want to be.”

Knott stressed economic development strategies must be SMART — specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based.

Economic development is based on seven different categories of variables, including: the workforce; the ability for economic development leaders to plan and act as a group; housing, transportation and infrastructure; financial resources; land, natural resources and recreation opportunities; heritage and culture opportunities; and education, health care, social services and public safety.

“Our belief is that you have to look at economic development and have a long-range business plan in place,” Knott said. “Part of that plan is to get everyone working together. For instance, in Livingston County, instead of having just one or two people working on building economic development, we get a group of about 100 people, and when you get that type of group, things happen.”

Pontiac City Administrator Bob Karls described the visit as “very informative.”

“It was challenging in the sense that as a county, we need to strengthen our ties with each other and focus to ensure we can maximize our economic potential,” he said.

Dontz said the economic development council will discuss using the services of Vital Economy to assist with economic development later this month.

“We will sit down and discuss his visit and try to get feedback on moving forward with something like that,” Dontz said. “What Vital Economy offers is more of a long-range outlook on our economic development, and they are experts in rural economies.”

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