What is Economic Development?
To the general public, economic development means a variety of things – new jobs, new businesses, better parks and new restaurants are commonly noted. American Economist W.W. Rostow defined economic growth as having progressive stages beginning with a population without scientific perspective on the world, and ends with the economy flourishing in a capitalist system, characterized by mass production and consumerism. While these examples are results of successful economic development efforts – the real work happens in site and program development projects that create opportunities for local businesses. The long term economic impact of these projects is more complex and further reaching than what is immediately obvious.
Why Do We Care?
Resourceful, action-oriented economic development leaders are invaluable to a community, creating a menu of projects and opportunities for planning and moving dreams forward – “a dream without a plan is just a wish.” Most counties have a full-time economic development representative. These professionals serve as connectors for workforce development, business, and marketing their area to employers and developers.
Economic development requires investment prioritization in projects that make areas more marketable and create ROI. Creating connections, finding funding and “shovel ready” site development are unseen initiatives that lead to big impact on local economies.
Leaders from several northeast Indiana counties gave examples of completed projects that were critical to successful efforts.