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2. Identify a market opportunity

Identify a Market Opportunity

Successful development initiatives require an approach that is right for the market and right for the region. Buyers in the market have specific preferences. Those preferences are better met by certain goods or services than they are others. And regions have unique stocks of capitals—natural resources, built infrastructure, skills, know-how, financing options, influence—that are better suited to address certain development opportunities than others.

The challenge for you as an economic and community development practitioner is to identify a market opportunity that is right for your region. What’s a market opportunity? In WealthWorks, a market opportunity is documented demand for a set of products or services that—with the right set of investments and connections—your region could pro­duce and that has good potential to generate wealth-building results. A market opportunity is a good deal for buyers and a good deal for the region because it represents a situation where you can meet buyers’ demands for products and services while at the same time growing stocks of capitals, increasing local ownership and control, and improving local livelihoods.

There are two major steps to take to winnow down from the big wide wonderful world of market opportunity possibilities to the few that make the most wealth-building sense for your region. Those steps are getting to know demand and matching demand with your region.

 

Get to know demand

By following one or more of three Scans for Demand, you can target the buyers you want to consult—both inside and outside the region—to find out what products or services they want and are willing to buy.

It makes little sense to set up shop to make a product or provide a service that no one is buying or likely to buy. Yet a lot of effort in economic and community development is focused on producing more of what we already do or make in our region or attracting new industries—without finding out if that’s what buyers want now, or will want tomorrow.

WealthWorks action is built around a market opportunity where you can document demand. And you can document demand because you have established relationships with actual and potential buyers well before you put your development “spade” to the ground.

Of course, there are a lot of buyers out there buying a lot of goods and services. You can’t talk to all of them or research every product or service. So in WealthWorks, you start with what you know about your region to determine the buyers with whom you want to engage. By following one or more of three Scans for Demand, you can target the buyers you want to consult—both inside and outside the region—to find out what products or services they want and are willing to buy.

You might think of each of these scans as a set of conversations in which you are exploring. In fact, looking for market opportunities often sends you in a direction you never thought of before. So it is important to be curious and think outside the box. And none of these scans are mutually exclusive. In fact, one can often lead to another, and it’s quite useful to employ them all—in whatever order makes sense from your starting point—to connect with and better understand potential buyers and an initial set of market opportunities they might represent.

Match demand with your region

It is important to consider which market opportunities are best suited for your region—meaning they will harness the most local energy, solid wealth-building potential, and capacity to scale into bigger and better results later.

The point of building ongoing relationships with demand is to continually spot market opportunities that have good potential for your region. In WealthWorks, to narrow your selection further, it is important to consider which market opportunities are best suited for your region—meaning they will harness the most local energy, solid wealth-building potential, and capacity to scale into bigger and better results later.

Those three factors can frame how you explore your initial market opportunity options, so that you can move toward selecting one for your WealthWorks value chain.