Benchmarking Excellence Among Accredited Economic Development Organizations
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In search of competitive excellence, economic developers often ask for guidance and assistance on key enterprise management and operational issues relating to running a quality economic development program. They are interested in operating as effectively as possible, in making the highest possible impact, and in having a knowledge system in place for tracking their performance to enable continual improvement. To assist in this arena, the Calibration ProgramTM was designed by the Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute (EI2) to help local economic development organizations (EDOs) achieve higher performance in their operations. The program draws on quality management standards from the International Economic Development Council’s (IEDC) Accredited Economic Development Organization (AEDO) program, the International Organization of Standardization (ISO), the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Program - and, the expertise of professionals associated with EI2. To provide benchmarks for EDOs via this program, IEDC and EI2 launched a joint initiative in 2006 to benchmark excellence in quality management among AEDOs located across the United States. These organizations were selected for participation in the survey because they have been recognized by IEDC for their enterprise excellence and, therefore, represent the “best of the best” in economic development. This initiative has informed other EDOs on what it takes to be a high-performance organization in economic development, as well as identified opportunities for continual improvement. It has provided a set of often-cited benchmarks. In 2009, IEDC and EI2 launched a new initiative to create up-to-date benchmarks by surveying current AEDOs. Stakeholders from each organization were asked to assess their organization on the basis of key indicators related to quality management, according to 10 areas. These 10 quality management areas include seven Baldrige award criteria and three additional criteria specifically relevant to economic development organizations. Also included were quality management indicators relating to innovation management and sustainability.