You’ve read our handy guide on what exactly economic development is, and now you’re ready to dig deeper. That works out well, because that’s exactly what we’d like to do.
If you haven’t read our primer on economic development, we’ll forgive you this time. It’s impossible to come up with a simple definition, but at its core economic development is about building and growing an economy that is inclusive and improves the quality of life for all involved.
As you might imagine, this isn’t a simple proposition. It takes dedication and effort from a wide variety of players to make economic development work. There is no one entity that can do the hard work of economic development, but rather a collaboration among all the moving parts.
Listing every single possible player in economic development could take days, but in the short time we have we can identify some of the most important organizations and leaders.
Here are some of the key stakeholders and players in economic development, and how they contribute to making it all come together:
Economic development begins with policy, meaning government officials at all levels act as critical stakeholders.
As noted by Wikipedia, government has a broad role to play in economic development, such as “as price stability, high employment, and sustainable growth. Such efforts include monetary and fiscal policies, regulation of financial institutions, trade, and tax policies.”
But some might argue that local government plays the most important role, including mayors, local economic development councils and offices that are dedicated to things like affordable housing or job growth.
Within government it would be possible to break down the stakeholders in economic development into levels of granularity that we don’t need to explore here. What’s important is to remember that government on a broad level has a critical role to play in creating policies which promote economic development.
As with government, it would be possible to create an entire article that simply listed the potential players within private business that might contribute to economic development. But we respect your time, so today we’re maintaining a broad view of the topic.
Private business has a crucial role to play in economic development across a wide swath of categories. When you boil it down, providing living wage jobs is one of the key elements to creating an economy that works for everyone.
Living wage jobs are those that pay enough to keep workers out of poverty and covering basic needs. It means people have access to things like decent housing, good food and reliable transportation.
While government policies and regulations can help to foster an economic environment that is favorable to businesses that provide living-wage jobs, those jobs actually have to come to fruition for economic development to work.
When businesses bring living-wage jobs, it can create a ripple effect which benefits the entire region. To learn more about how the ripple effect works, check out this blog from Denver South Economic Development Partnership President and CEO, Mike Fitzgerald.
From early childhood through post-secondary, educational institutions and leaders shape the workforce.
In economic development, spotting areas of opportunity and growth are key, but you also have to have workers with the right skills to stay competitive in those areas. As Investopedia notes, “The education and training of a country’s workers is a major factor in determining just how well the country’s economy will do.”
Creating pathways for students that will ultimately lead them to living-wage jobs and contributing income back into the economy is a critical part of the economic development cycle. Education leaders must work with private business, and vice versa, to ensure that a workforce with the right skills is being developed.
As you can imagine, this is no easy task, but one of the most important when developing an economy that works for everyone.
Access to healthcare might not be what you immediately think of when you think of economic development, but it plays a very important role. For an economy to thrive, people need to be healthy. Without healthy humans, there’s no one to drive the economy forward.
And healthcare cost is a critical factor. As Brookings points out, “Even with insurance, many households still remain vulnerable to depleting their savings in the event that they experience a major illness or injury.”
If people get knocked out of the economy due to illness, that’s not good for anyone. When it comes to economic development, it’s best to have as many people as possible contributing actively, both as workers and spenders.
Healthcare professionals, leaders and innovators are not only members of a major economic contributor, but crucial to keeping economic players active and thriving.
Are you eligible to vote? Are you able to speak or write an email? Then you have an important role to play in economic development, too.
Whether as a member of the workforce, or just someone who has their own ideas to share, every member of the public has a powerful role to play in economic development.
While government can work with and bring together many of these players, it’s often up to voters to approve or deny legislation which might have an impact on how the economy develops. And before policies are passed, many government bodies will allow for public comment or hold public meetings where feedback can be gathered.
Even contacting public representatives on social media can have an impact. According to a 2015 study, 80 percent of congressional staffers said even less than 30 posts responding to lawmakers’ communication on social media would be enough for the office to take note.
Have ideas about the economy? They are as legitimate as anyone else on this list.
This is just a sampling of the stakeholders that have to come together to make economic development work, but it highlights some of the biggies.
Ultimately it comes down to collaboration. There is no silver bullet that makes the whole thing work — it takes people from organizations across multiple categories, industries and levels of authority coming together and working towards a common vision. What part will you play?