A Practitioner’s Perspective

Tim Burg Economic Development, Monday Memo

For some the idea of economic development is only about growing the economy, and little more.  While that thought is at the core of what an economic developer does, there is much more to what economic development affects in a community. 

To those who are struggling to make ends meet, economic development can mean a better paying job and more dollars each week to support their family.  To those who own and run their own business, it can mean having more consumers visit their place of business, which allows them to stay in business, employ more people and in some cases collect more taxes that are sorely needed by our City and County Governments. 

To the City or County, economic development can mean creating additional revenue streams to allow them to maintain more of our roads and bridges faster, as they are in constant need of repair.  It can also allow them to do more to provide greater safety and security to the residents of an area, by increasing the number of the first responders, and supplying them with better equipment or resources. 

To an institution of education, economic development can mean a larger pool of students to teach and a growing tax base that allows them to improve and expand their educational facilities and expand the classroom curriculum they can offer.  

To those graduating from those schools it can mean more employment opportunities, a well-paying and satisfying job, and a bright future. And to the parents of those who are graduating it can mean that their children find a job near them, keeps them closer and that in turn helps us build a stronger and close-knit community. 

Economic Development can also mean sustainability in a world that often times seems topsy turvy, with a new virus, or emergency facing us every day.  Sustainability can mean that we have employers who can weather those natural and man-made disaster, so that some can keep working.  

One could argue that it’s impossible to place a value on what having sense of peace can mean to an individual or community.  In an often times chaotic world, if the place we call home offers stability it is viewed as a priceless commodity and what others wish to be part of. 

For those who are in the sunset years of their lives, economic development can mean a lower cost of living, where the bills they pay are less than elsewhere, the services are better and the feel safe and secure.

In the world of business attraction, economic development is finding a location where they can compete, where the cost of doing business is lesser and the return on investment is higher. 

Other economic development needs can be where business is celebrated, a place that skilled employees can be found and sustained for a long period of time.  To some it will be where the prospect of continual growth is more promising than elsewhere.   

An economic development advantage to some companies can be location, their proximity to the customers they serve, being in the middle of a large continent which offers transportation and delivery advantages. 

From the perspective of someone who has been doing professional economic development for a quarter century in one manner or another, the business of business is everything we have just mentioned and so much more. 

Economic Development means different things for all kinds of different people, businesses or organizations.   And if we do our job correctly, we find a way to do something to benefit them all… 

Because it is what we are supposed to do…