Economic development can be defined as the process of a community creating, retaining, reinvesting resources, and improving the quality of life of members living within the community. While it can also be defined as business development and industry recruitment that is only one piece of the economic development puzzle.
True economic health and prosperity in a community requires a focus on business retention and growth balancing a mix of small and large business. The effort to create entrepreneurial development is another critical piece that if utilized correctly can help individuals better their future and their community at the same time. Workforce development that leads to solid employment opportunities that include every type and size of business leads directly to an opportunity to help individuals and families become more financially stable and is an underlying foundation of creating a vibrant economy.
In our geographic location, the rich history or visitors, guests, second homeowners and day trippers allows us to also count tourism as one of the pieces that will continue to benefit our region. Travel, tourism, and hospitality are all keys to our sustainable economic development.
Most importantly, our successful local economies are determined by the quality of leaders and those focused on economic development efforts in our community, specifically how individuals communicate, work together and make decisions for the greater good.
The vision of a brighter, vibrant and strong economy is the picture on the front of a box of puzzle pieces. As we work on “piecing together” our economic development it is easy to see that some of the “pieces” listed above are already in our box of puzzle pieces. However, some pieces are missing our maybe they are in the box but we have not yet found them.
If you are like the majority of people that do puzzles, there seems to be agreed upon and acceptable methods to putting a puzzle together. Many people have a plan or strategy. The same should hold true for a successful or realistic vision of economic development. Create a plan or strategy. Just like building a puzzle, we need to ask and encourage people that have needed talents to help with the plan strategy and assist you in building out the economic development puzzle.
Next, we need to find the key pieces that build the frame, or as it relates to economic development, the framework. The framework helps form the foundation and “outline” that all of the other pieces of the economic development puzzle fits into.
Building each of the sections of the puzzle in a balanced way is also a key to keeping the economic development pieces and those supplying the pieces interested and engaged. Even with the connectivity of economic development “puzzle pieces” of business retention, growth of small and large business, entrepreneurial development, workforce development and tourism the different skillsets and approaches to serving the needs of those areas sometimes difficult to balance. In some cases the benefits to one area of economic development may be viewed as a detriment to another area. In addition, is too much importance is placed or an uneven focus placed in one area, the other areas of the economic development puzzle may become neglected or underutilized.
So it is time to build the puzzle. Surprisingly, even though a complicated puzzle can seem challenging, if the plan and the pieces are in place, the puzzle can be completed. And the vision (remember the picture on the front of the box?) can be realized. The economic development vision we planned for can become a reality.
But wait….. we are stilling missing a piece. It may end up be the most important piece of all. It is the piece that completes the economic development puzzle. That piece is you. Your “piece” of the economic development puzzle can come in many forms. If you are working in one of the earlier mentioned areas like business, tourism or workforce development your piece is pretty clear. However, if you are not actively engaged in business or economic development, please go back and read the first line of this week’s Business Currents.
“Economic development can be defined as the process of a community creating, retaining, reinvesting resources, and improving the quality of life of members living within the community.” Each of us is part of our community. We are all “pieces” of the community and we are connected to other pieces of the community. And we have the ability to form and create stronger connections that benefit our communities and the economic vibrancy of our communities as well as our quality of life.
You are the final piece of the economic development “puzzle.” The actions we all take not only have the power to propel our community forward but also create a stronger well connected network of pieces that work together. When the pieces work together and fit together we form a future vibrant community that benefits every piece of the puzzle.