Townsquare Media

David Fine of the City of Bozeman's Economic Development Department explained the concept of "economic gardening" this morning on 1450 KMMS-AM. It's one of two prevailing ideas to develop the local economy, with the other being incentives to lure business to the area.

But there's a problem with the incentive model.

"First, it's really expensive and there is a perspective that this causes a bit of a 'race to the bottom,''' Fine said, "because if someone will choose you because you gave them the most money, maybe you [business owner] will jump ship and all those jobs that were brought in because of the incentive, leave when the incentive runs out."

Oh, yeah, it's expensive too.

Instead, the city has decided to focus its efforts on economic gardening. The main idea is to "support business that are already here, folks that have those ideas and want to grow here, helping them cluster and work with other like-minded business to a common end," Fine explained.

David Fine used the photonics cluster and the development of the Montana Photonics Industry Alliance as a successful example of economic gardening. With an established industry, the member partners can now recruit to the area. And if things don't work out for one company, the transplanted employee has other options.

Have fun in your garden, David!