Let’s Make a Deal, a television game show that began airing in 1963, involves selected members of the studio audience (usually outrageously dressed), making deals with the host. These audience members, referred to as "traders," are offered something of value and given the choice to keep the item or exchange it for another item of unknown value.  The risk is, of course, that the new item will have little or no worth, a "zonk."   

The format of Let’s Make a Deal has a tongue-in-cheek similarity to economic development, where communities (the traders) attempt to differentiate themselves in hopes of being selected (“Pick me! Pick me!”) by a company looking to expand or relocate (the host).  Most recently, this concept is playing out in Amazon’s search for a second headquarters. 

Once a trader is selected, the real Let’s Make a Deal-style gamesmanship begins.  On the show, the host has the advantage of being fully aware of what is behind Doors 1, 2, and 3—much in the same way that only Amazon knows what its true plans are.  In fact, becoming Amazon’s second headquarters could cost a community hundreds of millions of dollars with no guarantee of a financial payback or improved quality of life.

In spite of the potential for audience members to go home empty-handed, Let’s Make a Deal still airs today—some 50 years later. Why? Because the traders win just often enough to make the show intriguing and entertaining, and winning is exactly what every economic developer wants.

For community leaders, becoming a winning trader is easier than you might think.  At the highest level, the process really boils down to two things:  knowing the value of what you have to offer and assessing the risk of making the trade. (i.e., What does the host offer? Will it result in recovering the value of what you are about to trade?)

Similar to the game show, C2AE is the supportive audience member.  You know the one— jumping up and down, shouting to the trader to choose another door.  Through our tools, services, knowledge, and experiences, we’ve assisted many communities in making educated choices in managing their assets. 

One of our tools is our Development Ready Reference Guide.  With this guide—and a little instruction—community leaders and economic developers are able to calculate the value of their existing infrastructure and buildings.  The guide can also be used to estimate the costs to replace, upgrade, or install new infrastructure or buildings, and it’s flexible enough to support hosts of any size.  With this tool, communities can calculate a present value on the assets they have or can bring into the deal. 

C2AE also offers Asset Management strategies, utilized for the fundamental goal of preserving and extending a service’s life, value, and quality of existing assets. We use these strategies to create projections for a development’s short term and long term financial implications and its impact on a community’s assets. These strategies can help communities estimate if and how much additional financial burden a development will have on its assets.

So, community leaders, don’t get zonked.  By understanding the value of what you have to offer and the financial impact of a development on existing assets, you can become an educated trader, and the next time someone says “Let’s make a deal,” you can better determine which door to choose.  Remember, C2AE can be the supportive audience member shouting out suggestions. Just don’t ask us for assistance with the goofy costumes; we’re technical people.

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Mike Jantz is a business developer at C2AE.