The New Algorithm

To manage the economic development of a place today, you need a plan. Local economies are too complex, economic conditions changing too fast and there are too many program elements to coordinate to wing it.

However, we argue that while a plan is necessary, it is not nearly enough. And we believe that hiring outside consultants to research and write one for you is a mistake. You may want to commission outside consultants to critique your plan or research components of the plan at some point but communities need to do their own thinking and planning if they are to have any chance of underwriting managing its execution.

We believe that to manage the development of your economy in the decades ahead you will need a planning and management system that compels the region’s operational stakeholders to navigate a continuum of thinking, planning and execution.

The CELab has been working on a new algorithm for planning and managing community economic development efforts for the last ten years. The new algorithm is built around an expanded continuum of steps, a new more practical and comprehensive framework and an automated planning and management calculus that reduces the time and cognitive load of thinking, planning and managing the process.

The Algorithm contains 6 stages: Think > Assess > Plan > Underwrite > Manage > Account

Purpose: To create a team that understands the challenges facing the
economy in question and is aligned in the new approach to growing the
Deliverables: At the end of the Thinking segment, there should be a roster of
committed stakeholders that understand their own motivations, have identified
the primary forces at work in the economy and have agreed on the goals and
scope of the process they are undertaking.

Purpose: To agree upon data inputs required for assessing how many e-base jobs
are needed, where they will come from, what factor of production gaps will
prevent their creation, and what solutions are implied.
Deliverables: Data sheets for economic predicament, job creation estimates by
program theater as depicted in the Jobs Dashboard. List of factors of production
gaps for each theater, how each will impact job creation, and solutions outlined
for implied programs, policies, and projects as outlined in the factor of
production gap matrix, job creation capacity assessment.

Purpose: To develop a prescriptive planning document based on the assessment
for scaling job creation activity to the needed level.
Deliverables: Narrative that describes the program of work derived directly from
the assessment that answers the 7 “shark tank” questions:

1. How do you define Economic Development?
2. How many new economic base jobs do you need?
3. What program effort do you expect to produce the new jobs?
4. Does the potential for job creation meet your needs?
5. What factors of production gaps need to be cured for the new jobs to materialize?
6. What projects, programs and policy changes are required to cure each FOP Gap?
7. How do you propose to underwrite, manage and account for critical program elements

Purpose: Assign responsibility, raise money and provide quality assurance and
Deliverables: Contract level descriptions of discrete program efforts, projects,
policy changes, etc. essential to meeting community job creation goals. Includes
roles and responsibilities for governance, sources and uses of funds, operational
and performance reporting/ accounting protocols for each program theater and
FOP gap

Purpose: Assure execution and reporting of all plans for each function as
described by underwriting
Deliverables: Periodic reports from each relevant parts of the apparatus on

Purpose: Validate return on investment rationale for the community’s job
creation efforts
Deliverables: Periodic public and private reports on accounting of key metrics
outlined in underwriting. Evaluation of results against the plan.