Howdy from the beautiful Rocky Mountains! The Rocky Mountain chapter of SLA is thrilled to contribute this week’s FutureReady365 posts. We are a small, diverse community of 150+ members spread across a four-state region (Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and South Dakota). We have a medley of posts from public school, government, higher education and independent professionals that we hope will prompt conversations, comments and thoughts on being future ready. Happy reading!
by Recca Larson, Economic Intelligence Specialist, City of Littleton Business/Industry Affairs (Rocky Mountain Chapter, Business & Finance Division)
My first encounter with the term “economic gardening” was on an SLA job posting in the spring of 2008. My heart opened up and my brain engaged just reading the explanation of the economic gardening concept in the job description. The idea of nurturing local businesses already existing in the community sounded like one of those genius ideas that are so obvious once you hear it you wonder why it isn’t practiced everywhere. Several sophisticated theoretical concepts underlie the practice of economic gardening but the basic idea is that rather than focusing on bringing new businesses into a community (the traditional approach to economic development) an economic gardening program supports and helps to grow those businesses already operating in the community.
Economic gardening recognizes that economies are built by entrepreneurs and therefore focuses on three principles designed to make communities attractive to entrepreneurs – infrastructure, information and connections. Infrastructure pertains to amenities in the community that entrepreneurial folks look for, like open space, museums, libraries and a good school system. Because access to high value information is critical for business success, a highly skilled business librarian has always been a part of Littleton’s economic gardening team. Known as the “Economic Intelligence Specialist,” this team member is encouraged to seek out and use the latest tools and techniques available for business research and analysis and then to apply the information retrieved to help businesses solve problems. Connections have to do with both individual and organizational resources. Littleton’s economic gardening program provides local business owners with connections to experts and other influential people and also nurtures relationships with resource-rich organizations like universities and research labs that may be critical for a business’s growth.
A serendipitous glance at the SLA job board on a spring day resulted in an unexpected career shift into an innovative, exciting program I had no idea existed. Now, three years into the job, I’ve found that my professional skills and abilities are growing along right along with the businesses we help in our economic gardening program. And that’s my short story about being future ready.
Recca Larson has worked for the City of Littleton’s Business/Industry Affairs Department since 2008. Her fascination with business research and research databases was awakened as a student at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Graduate School of Library Science. Out in the real world she spent a satisfying decade setting up and running research services for several Fortune 500 companies. Recca also worked many years for Dialog, heading a team of business librarians advising Dialog customers on search strategies designed to answer complex business questions. She’s been an RMSLA member since 2008 and was previously a member of the San Andreas and San Francisco chapters of SLA.