- Economic development is evolving in many ways as a reflection of changing realities facing local and regional economies, a growing interest in innovation and experimentation in local communities across the country, and an influx of new, younger, and more diverse practitioners.
There are some clear themes emerging:
- Shift from recruitment as the primary economic development strategy , especially in rural regions, to retaining and supporting existing businesses and economic generators, such as health and educational facilities, and on creating favorable conditions for entrepreneurship.
- Building on community and regional assets, using local strengths as the basis for marketing and investment has becone the foundation for small business development. These assets are not just financial, but intellectual, individual, social, and political capital – the ideas, skills, relationships, and connections that are at the heart of community vitality – as well as the unique assets of a place – its natural, built, and cultural assets.
- Integrating economic development into broader strategies and systems, including workforce development, community development, and community resilience. Integration also brings together policies and funding streams from federal, state, local, private, and philanthropic resources.
- Regional Collaboration. In economic development, collaboration encompasses multi-jurisdictional planning through comprehensive economic development strategies, public-private partnerships, linkages with universities for technology transfer and specialist expertise and with community colleges for workforce development programs, as well as joint efforts with utility companies and others to pursue infrastructure and service improvements.
- Equitable Development. In rural communities and regions, the intersectionality of race, geography, class, and culture raises hard questions as to the quantity and quality of resources that flow in and out and about who benefits from economic development and who loses. Who gets the jobs and at what pay? Where do the profits go? Who must deal with any environmental consequences?
- Stewardship. The management and use of natural resources, whether through farming, forestry, fishing, mining, or recreation remain at the heart of rural life. Issues of climate change, alternative sources of energy, and reductions in biodiversity are beginning to have an impact on rural economic development. The challenges of wildfires, droughts and high temperatures, floods, hurricanes and tornadoes, and rising sea levels are leading to initiatives such as carbon sequestration, as well as measures to make communities and landscapes more resilient through better land use and development decisions.
- Economic development: creating the conditions for economic well-being, specifically:
Community development: creating the conditions for social well-being, specifically:
- The generation of income and wealth for individuals, households, and communities that allows them to meet their essential needs for food, housing, healthcare, education, and transportation, and to make choices that contribute to their individual and community security, satisfaction, and personal satisfaction.
- The equitable distribution of benefits from that income and wealth so that economic well-being is widely-shared, irrespective of geography, race and ethnicity, or gender, and leads to broad-based opportunity and resilience.
Adapted from OECD (2020)
- The provision of affordable and accessible services such as healthcare, education, housing, transportation, social and community services.
- The weaving of the social and community fabric that creates a sense of belonging and trust founded in positive relationships and networks through religious, cultural, sports, and educational institutions, cultural and family connections, and strong and inclusive governance. In other words, the empowerment of all citizens to live happy, healthy, and meaningful lives.