What Economic Development Initiatives Can Do for Your Community
Economic development initiatives enhance a community’s economic and social prospects and should be a necessary part of any community’s plans for the future. For rural communities that are losing their younger populations to towns or cities, economic development initiatives can create a resilient path to continuous growth, opportunity, and investment.
According to the Cities of Opportunity report by PricewaterhouseCoopers, great cities can be measured by their connectivity, economic potential, and quality of life. These qualities are measured based on 10 indicator categories and 67 variables. Economic development initiatives will help improve the economic potential of your community.
Here are a few ways that economic development can support a municipality on the path to becoming a more prosperous community:
Table of Contents (5 minute read)
- What Economic Development Initiatives Can Do for Your Community
- Business Retention and Expansion: A Foundation of Economic Development
- Cultural Economic Development: Community Culture
- Labour Market Data: A Key Aspect of Economic Development
- Economic Development Resources
- Make Economic Development Decisions Based on Accurate Data
- Want to Discover Other Economic Development Tools to Get Your Community What it Needs?
Business Retention and Expansion: A Foundation of Economic Development
Economic development officers have several different tools they can use to drive economic growth and development in their communities. Traditional economic development tools include BR+E programs, labour market information, and analysis of cultural resources. These tools are essential to have in your toolbox, but you need to combine them with current regional data to deliver the best results.
Helping sustain and grow existing businesses in the community can actually be more effective than devoting resources to attracting new businesses. After all, the existing businesses have already chosen your community. Focusing on business retention and expansion has been proven to grow the tax base, create more jobs, and spur better economic growth.
A robust BR+E strategy can help you predict the future needs of your community. Real-time data from MDB Insight's Triage BR+E™ program can help you gain insight into your business community, possible challenges, and how your economic landscape may change in the future. Up-to-date information for your BR+E strategy can help you attract new investors to your community before they've even realized they need you.
Cultural Economic Development: Community Culture
Economic development doesn’t just have to be about economic prosperity. The cultural life-force of a community can improve the lives of citizens and also provide an economic boost through tourism. Cultural mapping can enrich the lives of citizens, and improve the attractiveness of a community.
Cultural economies capitalize on the cultural diversity and potential available in your community and region, that you may have identified in cultural mapping activities. A cultural economy can boost overall economic development by bringing tourism to your region, and making your community more attractive for creative companies and entrepreneurs to your region. It also helps build community pride and connection. A playable city, where citizens are encouraged to have fun, explore, and engage with the community builds a strong support base for local culture.
To improve your cultural economies, it's important to collect data through your high season, when your community has plenty of activities going on. The off-season, or shoulder-season, is the perfect opportunity to analyze that data, and use it to improve your cultural development.
A key component of cultural development is creating a sense of place. When your community has a strong identity, you can connect all your cultural organizations and build a strong network that can work together to promote and grow tourism in your region. A strong community brand is also an investment attraction strategy that carries over into your other economic development initiatives.
It's appealing to enhance tourism potential in your community with strong cultural backing, but tourism fluctuates, with steep peaks and dips in economic impact. With data collected during your peak seasons and cultural mapping, you’ll be able to identify ways to develop sustainable tourism for your region.
Labour Market Data: A Key Aspect of Economic Development
Understanding the sectors that make up your local workforce is key to a successful economic development strategy. An accurate analysis of the job postings in your area can allow you to focus on attracting the right workers to your community, reducing unemployment and boosting the economy.
With the knowledge that labour market data provides, you can also plan for more appropriate training and education initiatives. The promise of a job in their industry after graduation will be attractive to youth — this, in turn, can help secure the future of your community by bringing in a new generation of residents.
When working with labour force data it's important that you have current data that is granular enough to show you trends in your individual region. Census data can be helpful, but it takes quite a while to collect and synthesize data for the whole country, and it may not accurately reflect your current economic situation when it becomes available. High-quality labour force data will help you to predict future changes in your economy and adapt your workforce development strategies.
Often the idea of economic development is associated with goals of growth in a community–more residents, more businesses, more growth. But, growth for the sake of growth is not generally sustainable. Economic development initiatives that help drive more growth, sustainably, so that a community continues to thrive and adapt as it grows are generally more successful.
A common discussion topic in economic development currently is automation. Artificial intelligence is developing at a phenomenal rate, and automation is changing the way so many industries operate, but it's not eliminating the need for humans. The way we work as humans are changing, but it means that humans are being shifted into safer positions, where they’ll need to employ more soft skills. Job automation is changing how our economies develop, for the better.
Labour Market Data is critical information that can help you develop a strong economic development strategy. Traditional census information gives you a broad overview of the economic status of a region, but it doesn’t give you insight into narrower details. More current labour market data can help you drill down to the specific opportunities available in your region. Specific granular information about the labour market data in Alberta gives a much clearer picture of actual supply, demand, and opportunity.
Economic Development Resources
Three of the most popular topics of discussion in economic development last year were the importance of gender parity, strategies for making EDO work easier, and three ways EDOs can support local businesses in your community. There are a variety of helpful resources available to support an economic development officer.
One of the most important tools for economic development officers is websites. Having a website for local communities is essential these days because most people research companies or places online before they ever visit a physical location. But just having a page on the web doesn't guarantee anything. To use your economic development website to its full potential to drive growth it’s important to develop an inbound marketing strategy that will help attract potential investors, new residents, and visitors to your community.
Another valuable resource for EDOs is membership in an economic development association. MDB Insight supports groups like the Economic Developers Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (EDANL), EDAC, and EDCO. These associations help to drive economic growth for rural municipalities with workforce development initiatives and creative placemaking ideas.
Books like The Local Economy Solution by Michael H. Shuman can be helpful for EDOs looking for new ideas for their local economies. Shuman's book offers unique perspectives on nurturing strong entrepreneurial systems that build a strong community foundation.
Planning for more sustainable water use is and important aspect of municipal planning. Reports like High And Dry: Climate Change, Water, and the Economy from The World Bank, can help municipal governments better understand the challenges of water scarcity, and identify economic opportunities and solutions to become more water secure.
Make Economic Development Decisions Based on Accurate Data
MDB Insight, Canada’s largest specialist economic development consultancy, is a devoted group of professionals who specialize in innovative solutions and are proponents of responsible growth and environmental sustainability. The MDB Insight team approaches each community as a unique entity, each with its own problems to solve, and because each community is unique, the MDB Insight team believes creative solutions are necessary for solving those problems.
The MDB Insight team consists of experts in the field of economic development who offer many tools to assist and support clients including BR+E, cultural mapping, and labour market data. You can find out more about MDB Insight’s economic development products, and how they work, at the MDB Insight solutions page.