About Economic Development

What Is It Like To Work In Economic Development?

Economic development professionals serve local, regional, state and provincial government agencies as well as several public/private entities. The primary roles and responsibilities of the economic developer are about improving the economic well being of a particular geographic area.

Definition of Economic Development

Economic development is about creating wealth in a community through the continuous improvement and application of a region's natural, physical, intellectual, and capital resources. It is essentially about creating jobs and capital investment while raising the overall standard of living for those in the community.

The economic development professional is often charged with the following types of activities:

  • recruiting new businesses
  • encouraging investment
  • improving worker skills
  • increasing employment opportunities
  • facilitating business and trade
  • promoting the community's leisure and tourist attractions
  • conducting research
  • assessing the community's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT)
  • supporting small business development
  • negotiating incentives
  • leading community development
  • communicating the community's value proposition

Leadership in Economic Development

Economic development officials take leadership roles in the strategic planning process. The strategic planning process involves many stakeholders in the preparation of a plan. This process includes assessing a community's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT), setting a vision and mission statement, establishing short and long term goals and objectives, creating a marketing plan, and managing resources to implement the plan.

Work Environment

Economic development managers work in professional offices utilizing modern computer equipment, customer relationship management (CRM) software and mobile devices. Many economic development managers travel extensively to meet with partner agencies, visit prospective business and industry, attend trade shows and conferences, and visit with top management of existing businesses and manufacturing operations. Upper level management positions demand hours beyond a normal 8-hour workday.

"Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed." Proverbs 15:22