What is economic development?

The Crawford Partnership is happy to announce our first celebration of Economic Development Week, an initiative started by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) in 2016 to recognize the work of economic development organizations and professionals in their communities. We’d like to celebrate this week by a daily educational and informative series about different aspects of economic development. David Zak, the president & CEO of the Partnership, with nearly 30 years experience in economic development talks about economic development – what it is.

1. Economic Development as Profession

The definition I think about a lot, and what we’re celebrating this week, is the practice of economic development (aka the profession), the activities organizations like the Crawford Partnership and others do to help the economy grow and the community progress. Here’s a nice 3-minute video from the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) on what the profession is about. Economic development includes different practice “areas” (like a law firm), including attraction, business retention and expansion, entrepreneurship and small business, workforce development, community development, real estate development, residential development, etc.

This is Economic Development (IEDC) (2019)

2. Economic Development as Projects

Economic development in a community also means the projects the economic development professionals are working to encourage and promote. Projects typically involve private-sector commercial and industrial companies investing money into the business (typically in fixed capital assets) and/or creating (and sometimes retaining) jobs. This can include a commercial property owner buying and renovating a property, a new start-up business being created, a manufacturer investing in machinery and hiring additional workers, a new retailer establishing its first Crawford County location, or a new downtown business opening its doors. Projects are critical because they often increase commerce, the economy, and tax revenue. They’re the building blocks of economic growth and quality of life improvements.

I like this video, which I think does a nice job talking about economic development in terms of projects. What is Economic Development? (Winnipeg Economic Development)

3. Economic Development as Results

Economic development is also often used in reference to a (national) quality of life, as represented by things like literacy, infrastructure, standard of living, housing access, industrialization, life expectancy, etc. In other words, the impact of the economic development projects themselves. For example, the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development) based out of Paris, is a global organization with 30 member countries (including the US) with the goal of fostering “prosperity, equality, opportunity and well-being for all.” This use of the term is also meant when speaking of “developing countries.”

Here is a video which uses the term in this larger sense of the term. What is Economic Development? (Marketing Business Network)