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What is Economic Development?

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Economic development is how a local area improves the economic, political, cultural, intellectual, environmental and social well-being of its people. Successful economic development is achieved when a place can achieve improved well-being as a combined community of government, residents, businesses, community groups, and visitors.

You contribute to economic development every time you spend money. That cup of coffee, those new shoes you bought, the taxes you pay, the holiday you just had, the meeting you just attended, all usually contribute to some form of economic development.

In general, economic development is usually the focus of federal, state, and local governments to improve our standard of living through the creation of jobs, the support of innovation and new ideas, the creation of higher wealth, and the creation of an overall better quality of life.

Economic development is often defined by what it is trying to accomplish. For example, building or improving infrastructures such as roads and transport doesn’t seem like it contributes to economic development. Most people believe the government spends billions on roads because ‘Our taxes pay for that’. That is true, but better access to a place will allow more people to visit. More people visiting a place will see more people spending money. That money employs people and in general, stimulates a local economic ecosystem.

Economic development often is categorized into the following three major areas:

  1. Governments working on big economic objectives such as creating jobs or growing an economy. These initiatives can be accomplished through written laws, industries’ regulations, and tax incentives or collections.
  2. Programs that provide infrastructure and services such as bigger highways, community parks, new school programs and facilities, public libraries or swimming pools, new hospitals, and crime prevention initiatives.
  3. Job creation and business retention through workforce development programs to help people get the needed skills and education they need. This also includes small business development programs that are geared to help entrepreneurs get financing or network with other small businesses.

How do we know if economic development is working? There are hundreds of ways to measure the hundreds of different economic development objectives that communities may have. Capstone Collective specialises in how this ecosystem works, the stakeholders within those ecosystems and developing programs that stimulate economic development for those stakeholders.

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