Client Spotlight- Tom DiFiore
27 Apr 2020
Blog, News, Client Spotlight
Tom DiFiore is currently the President & CEO of National Community Development Services (NCDS). The organization helps fund EDOs and Chambers, and, since 1977, has conducted over 700 campaigns and raised over $1.7 billion in communities of all sizes in 46 states. Click here to see Tom's full bio.
Tom is an Atlanta Native, got his undergraduate degree in Economics from the University of Virginia, and is now married with three kids. He got his MBA in the early 1990s and managed a territory for the foodservice division of a Fortune 100 food manufacturer. From there, Tom was recruited to NCDS by a family friend in 1995. At that point, he didn't know much about economic development or Chambers of Commerce but knew he had found his career path when (in his first week on a project) had closed-door meetings with a Mayor, University President, two bank presidents, and a plant manager - all of whom shared confidential opinions and ideas about the local community and its economic development.
When asked what Tom likes best about his job, he replied, "Working with top leaders who genuinely care about their communities and are willing to invest their time and money to make them better." He also enjoys the satisfaction of seeing the company's process and expertise help change a community's long-term economic trajectory. "There is a certain magic to navigating a community's unique dynamics to bring together the people who matter around a shared agenda, and then giving them resources to pursue that agenda," said Tom.
Some challenges that Tom faces include overcoming "low aim" (when leaders don't believe that they really can change their community's future) and building strong regional collaborations (i.e. overcoming old rivalries, mistrust, and narrow thinking requires great private and public leadership).
Tom's advice to communities and economic development pros who believe they could have a greater impact if they had more resources consists of:
It's not just about money. If you have a good strategy, can execute it, and if you have buy-in from the right leaders, then money won't be a problem (even in small/rural communities).
Members are not the same as investors and memberships alone will never generate "next level" resources.
If you're underfunded, try proposing bold and aggressive ideas. If you get some traction, you're on your way to more money. If not, you may need to evaluate your community's desire for economic growth and/or their understanding of how to achieve it.
When asked about his greatest success, Tom said, "Our clients' success is our success" The $1.7 billion the organization has raised has funded programs and projects that have helped create tens of thousands of jobs; attract, retain, and create companies; build community assets ranging from spec buildings to performing arts centers; and earned communities spots at the top of various "best places" rankings.
At Golden Shovel Agency, we know that you want to be a respected leader of a growing community. Our goal is to help you get there. We understand how frustrating it can be to not get noticed or falling behind the competition. That's why we focus on organizations like yours. Economic development is what we live and breathe. We currently support over 230 ORGANIZATIONS across the U.S. and Canada. In an effort to recognize some of the greatest economic developers we work with, we share these client spotlights to inspire you and give you insights on the successes and challenges that they face.
Know someone who is doing awesome economic development work? Let us know by emailing AANDERSON@GOLDENSHOVLEAGENCY.COM. We'd really love to hear from you!
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