Top Challenges & Best Resources for Economic Development Officers
Working as an EDO can be extremely exciting and rewarding because of the positive impact you can have on your community. It’s incredibly satisfying to deliver economic growth solutions to your Council and it’s rewarding to help a struggling business owner overcome problems to see success, stability, and even expansion.
But there are also plenty of challenges that come along with this type of work. Economic development has limited resources, staff and budget, which requires strategic planning and difficult decisions about projects. Building relationships and connecting with business owners is incredibly time consuming, and helping them understand what kind of support you can offer is also a challenge.
Attracting and retaining new investments in your community is difficult with limited time and resources. There’s also plenty of change in the economic development industry right now. Staying on top of this change is important. It is your job to be aware of the constantly changing list of government resources to support business owners in your community. And to top it all off, your job performance measurement is likely very results driven, so there is constant pressure to prove the importance of your role.
Resources for Economic Development Officers
We’ve collected a list of some of the most important tools that you need in your economic development arsenal:
Municipal BR+E Strategy
Having a strong municipal BR+E strategy is key to achieving measurable goals in BR+E. Without a strategy you are forced to guess about which industries might be interested in your town, which existing industries could use support, and which local businesses are thinking of expansion.
A solid BR+E strategy will identify areas to drive growth, pinpoint industries to focus on, and rate businesses based on risk and stability factors.
Workforce Development Professionals
Existing in nearly every industry, and offering incredible insight, workforce development professionals act as valuable partners to your local economic development strategy. It is important to build relationships with these people, whether at universities, corporations, or within your municipal governance team. Workforce development professionals track important statistics and predict trends and growth very early. Continued collaboration with the workforce sector can help to identify adjustments to your economic development strategy to meet the demands of existing industry and new investments.
Community volunteers are an invaluable resource for economic development. They’re passionate about the local community and have a variety of valuable connections, ideas, and strategies for success. With a large pool of volunteers also comes a large pool of knowledge as each person will have their own area of expertise. Collaborating with people from diverse backgrounds and experience will drive innovation in a community forward.
The unbridled passion of a community champion can drive the success of a great program, even if there is no available funding. These local ambassadors can be pivotal team members.
Economic Development Conferences
Economic development conferences, like EDA 2020, give EDO's a chance to learn from and network with other people in the industry. They're also a great opportunity to see what other communities are doing, and keep up with innovations in economic development.
Economic Developers Alberta hosted an all-digital, live-streaming conference in 2020. With over 90 speakers, EDA 2020 is an extremely high-value professional development opportunity for any Canadian economic development officer.
MDB Insight’s Triage BR+ETM program can help you develop and execute a robust BR+E strategy in as little as 10 weeks. With up-to-date, real-time data, you’ll be able to efficiently support businesses in your community, while attracting new investment, and driving economic growth in your community.
Bellevue Gains an Edge with It's Creative Economy
Bellevue, Washington, engaged MDB Insight to culturally map their growing creative community so they could better support the creative industry. They wanted to know:
- How creative sectors contributed to their economy,
- How they could build creative sectors,
- Where they could build partnerships, identify artists and firms to integrate into the economy, and
- How to develop a creative economy strategy.
With help from MDB Insight, they realized just how strongly creative industries impacted Bellevue’s economy, and were able to create a robust cultural development plan that supported creative industries.
Lehigh Valley Is Winning the Battle Against Changing Workforce Trends
In 2018, Lehigh Valley realized they were going to have a workforce problem on their hands. They wanted to get ahead of the game, and be able to develop a strategy for meeting the needs of their local industries. MDB Insight delivered an intensive study of the seven target industries. With this information Lehigh Valley developed a strategic action plan to improve the quality of their workforce.