Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Truth and Illusion II

Tucson, Arizona. The TREO clothmeisters sent out an email blast Wednesday pontificating their satisfaction with the results they've produced over the past several years. Let's consider some of the semantics.

TREO assisted in the attraction and/or expansion of 11 companies

Did they now, or did they happen to sit in on a meeting with a company already moving here when PICOR real estate showed them some commercial site options? Also, who was attracted that actually located here and when? Who expanded, and are we really to believe that the expansions were due to TREO? What did TREO actually DO that altered what would have happened otherwise? Ever expand your business? TREO generated the increase in sales, not satisfied customers or your marketing efforts.

representing 1,739 total new jobs supported, $88,196,901 in new capital investment and $241,813,414 in total economic impact. What jobs where at what wages since when? Solid information is not provided, and should one require such detail, the house of cards falls flat, especially the interpretation regarding capital projects, and most of all the total economic impact, where they use a ridiculously flattering multiplier (like three).

Here's the one I like: For every $1 invested in TREO, $76 is returned to the community in new wealth. This is the assertion that could make certain people retch. The number is so over the top ludicrous it is embarrassing. Seventy-six to one. Think about that.

I have no training in public relations, but even I seem to recall that when one wishes to put out material to tell the world how wonderful one is, protocol calls for the use of a third party, someone who appears to be as objective and trustworthy as possible. Naturally the individual just says whatever the prepared statement tells him to say, but at least the message is coming from someone else.

"TREO has consistently delivered on its promise to the Tucson region," said Joe Snell, president and CEO. "TREO has a razor-sharp focus on its mission of developing higher-wage, primary jobs within a coordinated, regional approach. Our return on investment by public and private partners is significant."

Significant? 76 to 1 is significant? It defies comprehension until one realizes that it simply follows a calculation, not real dollars in a real economy. The more accurate picture shows them sitting in meetings. They rush to meetings where Business A explores a deal with Businesses B and C. They smile and nod and shake hands. They declare themselves Major Players in town. Sometimes something happens, and other times it does not. They keep track. When something happens they take credit for the result. Businesses A, B, and C tolerate them for PR reasons.

Other significant highlights:

Development of the Blueprint Mobilization Plan. Good. We need to DEVELOP a PLAN to mobilize the PLAN we had a consultant make two years ago.

Endorsement of 50+ community partners in advancing strategies. Isn't a strategy a PLAN? Now we have people to endorse the advancement of a PLAN.

Development of a Community Report Card More numbers like the above that don't include specific measurable results with names, companies, dates, times, and places. If they get lucky, perhaps a business has figures solid enough to share, but this is rarely the case.

Development of marketing strategies and programs. A PLAN for promoting the PLAN.

Coordinated International business development strategy. Instead of developing, perhaps they only coordinated (sat in the meeting) the development of the PLAN. Oh, wait. They coordinated the plan to develop the plan.

Launch of Targeted Industry Planning Councils.

Perhaps the email's timing had something to do with the Marana council vote 5-2 Tuesday night to keep its $50,000 and zero its support for TREO. Sometimes the astute reader can see the truth seeping from the text. Directly from the article:

The council also noted that Marana isn't home to any of the 26 businesses in which TREO credits itself with having a role in the relocation to or expansion within Southern Arizona.

Like the kid pointing to the naked emperor, councilwoman Roxanne Ziegler was easy to understand. No plans. No strategies. No fancy language. Sometimes reality feels like a breath of fresh air, "I asked staff what TREO has done for us for the last three years, and they handed me a blank piece of paper."


Blogger TexPatriate said...

The webframe on the side provides me my daily dose of humor:

Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities Inc. was formed in July 2005 as the region's economic-development agency. It replaced the Greater Tucson Economic Council, which was criticized as ineffective.

When you read this just after the last sentence in X4mr's post ("I asked staff what TREO has done for us for the last three years, and they handed me a blank piece of paper."), it just makes me laugh and laugh.

9/18/2008 11:02 AM  
Blogger The Navigator said...

I do find it remarkable what people can claim or assert and get away with. Of course, we see this in ways that bend the mind with the presidential election. I am glad to see that at least some see through the lies of the McCain campaign, and Palin is a pathological liar extraordinaire.

x4mr, I read your blog regularly, and something is strange with the timing of this post. There is no way you posted this yesterday. No way.

If these people could take a $1 investment and turn it into $76, do you think they would be working for TREO?

9/18/2008 11:29 AM  
Anonymous Observer said...

X4mr states more truth than he might realize. I have actually been in the very meetings he mentioned. Certain businesses are discussing something, and all these cloth people (who have nothing to contribute) show up and feel important.

Some meetings can be 80% talking heads of zero substance, like the flies at a horse race. The horses run and win or lose, paying little attention to the parasites that are not a factor in the race.

If the flies start to get in the way of business, the horses use email or other means to get the pests out of the way of producing results.

At the cities that have good organizations for economic development, their biggest contribution is getting bureaucracy (permits, licenses, etc.) streamlined.

Navigator is right about the timing of this post.

9/18/2008 12:18 PM  
Anonymous Mariana said...

Viva Marana!

9/18/2008 12:44 PM  
Anonymous Mariana said...

PS I have a problem with the timing too but I think we should stay out of this

9/18/2008 12:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is an opinion article in the Star today asking that Marana and TREO "get along" and that somehow the issue is the relationship.

That TREO produces no results is not considered. They listed AFNI in yesterday's paper, which was an expansion, and TREO had absolutely nothing, zero, zip, nada, to do with it.

They lie.

There seems to be a lot of that going around.

9/19/2008 8:29 AM  
Blogger Liza said...

Ha Ha, now the Star has decided to be the border collie (herding dog) of the TREO problem.

Marana is supposed to be a team player and just fork over the money every year regardless of what it doesn't do for them. Just send your representatives to the meetings, collect the brochures, enjoy the drinks and sandwiches, and listen to some fat bureaucrat lie about how he turned $1.00 into $76.00. There are worse ways to spend an afternoon, amigos. Is 50,000 all that important in the "go along, get along" world of the overpaid bureaucrats?

Does Snell pull these numbers out of his hind end or does he have a formula of some kind? Just asking.

I noticed that most of the comments about the Star pro-TREO opinion were negative. Some people get it, but not nearly enough.

9/19/2008 6:40 PM  
Anonymous Scarlett Letter said...

The AZ Daily Star (Sunday lead editorial) is suggesting MTCVB not take such a big hit. Figures.

9/22/2008 11:35 AM  

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