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What Is Economic Development? And What Is the Job of an Economic Development Professional?

Journal Title Economic Development Quarterly
Published Date January 02, 2023
Research Type


Economic development (EcD) introduces new goods and services into a region's portfolio of traded products or expands the productive capabilities of existing members of a region's economic base. And EcD organizations are intermediaries that reduce risk and transaction costs by honestly representing their community and region to potential business investors. There are five closely related yet separate development practices. Four (community, workforce, housing, and commercial and industrial real estate development) create long-term regional EcD assets. While those assets are required for EcD to occur, they are insufficient to generate EcD outputs. Investments resulting in the production of goods and services are also necessary. EcD is a regional activity because the markets for three of the development practices are regional: labor, housing, and commercial and industrial real estate. Finally, EcD is both an art and a science. The art of EcD is connecting the dots that others cannot see. The science is getting deals done. Together they create investment momentum that builds optimism, generates trust, and mitigates risk.