[via Atanu Dey] An essay on the City of Littleton website:
In 1987, the City of Littleton, Colorado pioneered an entrepreneurial alternative to the traditional economic development practice of recruiting industries. This demonstration program, developed in conjunction with the Center for the New West, was called “economic gardening.”
We kicked off the project in 1989 with the idea that “economic gardening” was a better approach for Littleton (and perhaps many other communities) than “economic hunting.” By this, we meant that we intended to grow our own jobs through entrepreneurial activity instead of recruiting them. The idea was based on research by David Birch at MIT that indicated the great majority of all new jobs in any local economy were produced by the small, local businesses of the community. The recruiting coups drew major newspaper headlines but they were a minor part (often less than five percent) of job creation in most local economies.
What I love about economic gardening is the intellectual stage on which we get to explore. Its very essence requires that we not only understand the complex mechanism of economies but the never ending kaleidoscope of human activity as it relates to the building, maintaining and survival of communities. I doubt if we will ever completely understand it but if we come to an appreciation of how complex of a task we have undertaken, that will be a major step forward.