What is Economic Development?

Economic Development involves activities and actions on the part of government, community-based organizations, businesses, industry groups and citizen volunteers to improve the sustainability and economic outlook of their community or region. The process of developing and maintaining suitable economic, social and political environments, in which balanced growth may be realized, increasing the wealth of the community.

Some say that healthy, economically sustainable communities are ones that:

            • Practice ongoing dialogue
            • Generate leadership
            • Shape its own future
            • Embrace diversity
            • Know itself
            • Connect people & resources
            • Create a sense of community

Economic development is a process with a series of steps that build on each other to create a desired product or outcome. Process also implies there is evaluation at every stage. In this way the organization is able to make adjustments at each stage that will allow it to make better use of its resources and assist it in achieving its goals.

The community or region must determine what it feels is suitable. The population characteristics, resources and the desires of the residents will affect the types of economic activity that will be accepted within the community. Reference to the economic, political and social environments highlights the fact that economic development does not happen in a vacuum. The economic, political and social aspects of life interact in complex ways.

Balanced growth is an important consideration for a community or region. If the economy of a community or region depends heavily on one industry, it will feel the effects of the peaks and valleys of the business cycle of that industry. Diversification can lessen the impact of a single event in one market or industry on the local economy can be made less dramatic.

Each community or region defines wealth differently. In many instances wealth is determined solely in financial terms. The estimate of wealth may or may not include job creation, direct project costs, additional assessment base and/or lifestyle considerations.

Economic Development Officers
Economic Development Officers work with their organizations and a variety of partners, as both a facilitator and catalyst, to help create an environment in which communities can thrive, businesses can grow and people can prosper.