Believe it or not, businesses aren’t the only ones driven by a competitive edge. Local governments need to compete too.
Now more than ever, local governments are competing with other localities to attract new business and entice residents to move into town. Neighboring localities have always competed with one another on some level, but in recent years the competition has become more intense.
With the rise of remote work, people now have the option to work from anywhere. And as the economy shifts and regulates after the pandemic, businesses are looking for cost efficient places to set up shop. In order to stand out in an evolving, competitive market, local governments can’t compete on amenities alone. Other factors like policy choices, tax rebates, and modernized services all play a part in enticing businesses and residents to move in – and stay.
In this blog, we’ll explore specific ways local governments can encourage population and business growth, and how to gain a competitive edge over other localities with modern strategies, policies, and government technology.
Why Local Governments Need to Be Competitive
Migration patterns have shifted significantly since 2020. New Census data shows that large cities experienced steep population declines in the two years after the pandemic hit. As it turns out, most of these people are settling down in secondary and tertiary cities, small towns, or suburbs to escape the high cost of living and find a better quality of life.
While the mass exodus from large metros is slowing, it’s possible the trend will endure as people continue to embrace smaller communities that are more affordable, walkable, and offer amenities.
What Has Caused the Sudden Shift in Migration Patterns
Remote work has made it possible for many people to leave areas with high costs-of-living, high tax rates, and unfavorable policy options. The same is true for businesses. With workers scattered across the globe, businesses also have more flexibility in where they operate.
Since the choice is theirs, businesses and residents are expecting their new towns to offer modern, efficient government services, where they receive quick responses and aren’t burdened by bureaucratic red tape.
Local governments must step up their game and provide attractive policies and amenities to keep their citizens happy and their businesses thriving. Friendly competition will encourage neighboring communities to step up their game too, which can drive local economic development and population growth in the entire surrounding area.
In today's fast-moving, global economy, local governments really can’t afford to be complacent. Read on to learn how local governments can gain a competitive edge that attracts new residents and businesses.
How Local Governments Can Form a Competitive Edge to Entice Population Growth
As people leave large metros at a rapid rate, smaller cities, towns, and suburbs must grab the attention of choosy residents. This is important because population growth is considered a hallmark of a healthy community. Without growth, cities can stagnate and regress quickly.
In order to encourage population growth, local governments must edge out the competition from neighboring towns. Here’s how:
Modernize the permitting and licensing processes.
Faster approvals of quality, affordable housing projects means there will be more housing stock for new residents to choose from.
Learn more about streamlining construction permitting with GovPilot.
Upgrade local infrastructure like roads, bridges, and internet.
Smooth roads and global connectivity go a long way to attracting new residents.
Invest in public amenities, such as parks, trails, and rec centers.
Recreation is an important aspect of building a healthy community, and green space is at the top of most wish lists.
Improve the user experience on your government website.
A website is the first impression a resident may have with their new government. Making it easy for people to find services and make government fee and fine payments online helps new residents feel supported.
Here are government website improvements and digital credit card processing services for municipalities and counties to consider.
Consider expanding your public resource offerings, like public transit and free health testing.
Every service you offer helps to lower the cost of living and healthcare for your residents.
Improve your response time to citizen services or requests.
Consider GovPilot’s modern government administration software to create efficiencies in your organization, and read about how your local government can and should form a government performance management strategy.
Promote cultural amenities and support your local artists.
Residents feel connected to places where art is celebrated. So get the word out about your local museums, theaters, music venues, and art galleries!
Prioritize sustainability by making policies and following through.
More and more people, especially younger generations, value sustainability, and are attracted to places that encourage sustainable practices, like pedestrian zones and bike lanes, public recycling, and renewable energy alternatives.
How Local Governments Can Gain a Competitive Edge to Entice Business Growth
In today’s global market, attracting new businesses to a city or town is more challenging than ever before. But with the right strategies, local governments can position themselves as a desirable location for businesses and companies looking to expand or relocate.
Amend zoning regulations and modernize permitting to encourage more flexible development.
By reducing the time and cost associated with obtaining zoning approvals and permits, businesses can move into their new location sooner and with less hassle.
Discover how planning and zoning software from GovPilot can modernize your processes.
Expand public transit routes and offer more stops.
Businesses want to make sure their customers and workers can easily get to them. Consider public-private partnerships with transport companies to offer more efficient routes and schedules, as well as providing bike lanes and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure.
How can local governments improve public transit? Read on for specific tips.
Create open communication channels to build strong relationships with businesses.
Connecting with the businesses in your town makes them feel supported and valued. With the right economic development software, you can offer a centralized platform for businesses to access resources, share information, and get up and running quickly.
Invest in broadband infrastructure to ensure businesses have access to high-speed internet.
Virtually all businesses need fast internet access, so it’s a critical feature that localities must offer to remain competitive.
From a rural area? Consider BEAD Broadband Grants for Rural Local Governments.
Offer fiscal incentives to incentivize businesses to locate in your town.
Tax credits, cash grants, and rebates are tried and true economic development tools that help drive business growth.
Invest in business Improvement incentives and development opportunities in your community.
Offering workforce development programs can build up the number of skilled workers in your community. Setting up an innovation lab can encourage small business and startup growth.
Here are 6 keys to local government Innovation.
How Government Technology Gives Local Governments a Competitive Edge
As our world rapidly evolves with new technology advancements, local governments must keep up in order to attract innovative businesses and new residents.
With the use of government technology, local governments can modernize outdated systems, reduce red tape, and offer streamlined services to both new and existing residents and businesses.
Using government software, local governments gain a competitive edge by:
- Improving communication with residents and accelerating responsiveness to requests and questions.
- Creating efficiencies by automating processes with robotic process automation, streamlining government services, and removing redundancies.
- Saving time and making data more easily accessible by moving away from paper and storing municipal and county data in the government cloud.
- Using government data analytics to collect insightful data and make more informed decisions across departments.
- Increasing transparency by offering online resources and support for businesses and residents like permits, licenses, and open records requests.
- Improving online security for both local government agencies and residents. Consider these tips for improving local government cybersecurity and lessons from real life government data breaches.
- Finding taxpayer cost savings when processes are streamlined.
- Encouraging innovation among employees to create new programs and modern policies.
Use Government Software to Find a Competitive Edge in Every Department
There are so many ways local governments can use government software to optimize systems and provide better service to residents and businesses. Now more than ever before, local governments need to tap into the power of technology to fuel their economic development efforts.
To learn how GovPilot’s modern government software can help your organization gain a competitive edge, book a free demo today.
Government Competition FAQs
Why Do Local Governments Need to Compete?
As inflation increases and remote work continues to become more commonplace, people and businesses are no longer confined to major cities for economic opportunity.
As a result, local governments need to consider opportunities to drive population and economic growth in their community by:
- Using technology to expedite slow-moving bureaucratic workflows
- Considering ways to make the community affordable with free government services.
- Offering tax rebates for businesses
- Investing in modern public spaces and public transit.
- Making neighborhoods and commercial zones walkable.
How Can Local Government Economic Development Software Entice Businesses to Your Community?
Economic development software can give local governments a competitive edge for enticing businesses to move in with:
- Simple online business registration
- Online permitting and licensing applications and approvals / denials for construction permits, health licenses, etc.
- Business improvement incentives
Read on for more of the latest government trends:
- Software Solutions Across Local Government Departments
- Ultimate List of Local Government Departments
- How Local Governments Can Attract Tech Talent
- Local Government Human Resources Strategy
- Local Government Engineering Department Strategy