As an Economic Development practitioner in the private sector, I have been privileged to see economic development in its many forms at the local municipal level. From big oil, to agricultural, or small-tourism based economies, the art of economic development differs immensely depending on your starting point. Identifying the ideal future community should be a precursor to setting economic development goals.
One clear cut lesson from my time spent analysing economic trends is that the current economies have resulted at least partially from past economic development efforts. Planning economic growth requires that a community recognize what its current competitive position is, and takes the opportunity to collectively envision its medium to long term desired future. The strategies should aim to leverage current assets and expertise in the communities to create a diversified and sustainable economy.
So, in brief, my three observations from my first year in economic development are:
1) There is no one best practice economic development strategy (or strategies) - the nature of actions required depends upon where a community stands in its course of development, amongst other things.
2) Because economic development is an integral component of community development, it is crucial for a community to map out its ideal future, and then use economic development to support the achievement of that vision.
3) As every community has many assets and opportunities, there is no reason to tie its future to a single employer or industry: Diversification is the key to sustainability.
Juliana Serje, MSc Econ has completed her first year as McSweeney & Associates’ Data, Information and Communications Specialist. Juliana’s work for the firm includes the analysis and presentation of data, trends, industry sector information, economic programs and socio-economic material. Juliana holds a Baccalaureate of Arts in Economics and a MSc. in Economics.