Entrepreneurial Thinking in Local Government

Unlocking the Revenue-creating Potential of Community Assets Without Privatization

Local governments have opportunities to pursue entrepreneurial activities that take advantage of the assets they have to create more value for the community and financially strengthen the local government. Innovation, along with efficient execution of the idea to create new value for the public, is what we refer to as entrepreneurialism in local government.

A recent paper by the U.S. Government Finance Officer’s Association (GFOA) illustrates this type of entrepreneurial thinking by highlighting the efforts of the City of Lancaster, California. The paper identifies how the City of Lancaster recognized that it could parlay its existing assets (physical or otherwise) to create new revenue for the city and value for the public.

As an illustration of the way in which the City of Lancaster is seeing to unlocking the revenue-creating potential of its community assets (without privatizing public assets), the City is pursuing or considering the following ideas:

  • Using the city’s zoning power to increase the value of vacant parcels owned by the city and capturing the value of those parcels via new development.
  • Working with the local broadband internet provider to create municipal “add on” services, like municipal wireless internet.
  • Developing a local industrial park focused on biotech. But instead of building a site and handing it over to private firms, the city keeps a share in the products that are incubated at the site.

The lessons from Lancaster’s experience are applicable to local governments in the United States and around the world.

The full paper, “Entrepreneurial Thinking in Local Government: Unlocking the Revenue-creating Potential of Community Assets Without Privatization”. is available of GFOA’s website.

This blog originally appear on the GFOA website.

Image credit: City of Lancaster, CA.