Economic Development 101
What is Economic Development?
Economic development is a process of investing in a community to improve its economic prosperity. Economic development includes activities like helping local businesses expand, attracting new businesses into the community, and growing new businesses. Modern economic development efforts are also involved in initiatives to make the community an overall better place for businesses and residents: improvements to quality of life amenities, education and workforce development programs, infrastructure, social equity, and business climate. The overarching goal of economic development is to create a place where residents have ample opportunities to build their careers and improve the standard of living for themselves and their families.
Why is Economic Development Important?
By participating in economic development activities, economic developers seek to improve their economy and maintain a greater standard of living in their community. Economic development is important to a community because it improves the health of the economy and well-being of its residents, making the community resilient, even in times of hardship.
Who is in Charge of Economic Development?
Economic development can be led by several types of organizations in a community. Sometimes communities have a dedicated economic development organization (EDO), sometimes the city or county government has an economic development or community development department, or sometimes a chamber of commerce includes economic development among its activities. Other organizations that might be involved are workforce development and education institutions, local governments, state governments, utility companies, community foundations, and convention and visitors bureaus.
Ultimately, economic development success depends on everyone in a community working together to establish a vision and accomplish goals. Even individuals that have nothing to do with an EDO can affect change by being positive spokespersons and volunteering in positive community improvements.