Throughout the course of American history, the meaning and purpose of the phrase ‘economic development’ has changed and evolved. The California Association for Local Economic Development describes our current use of economic development clearly and succinctly: “Economic Development is the creation of wealth from which community benefits are realized. […] It’s an investment in growing your economy and enhancing the prosperity and quality of life for all residents.”
Economic developers are not just interested in improving their overall economy but are also community builders, educators, advocates and leaders working to create diverse and equitable communities. Economic developers and those who collaborate with them work tirelessly year-round, but it may not be generally known what an economic development professional does, and how they contribute to the success of the communities they serve. To help make their efforts more visible and celebrate the importance of their work, the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) created Economic Development Week.
What exactly is Economic Development Week?
The IEDC first created Economic Development Week back in 2016 to give “economic development professionals a platform to showcase to their community the contributions made to their local economy throughout the year.” The IEDC provides a toolkit that breaks down how economic developers can promote their efforts and boost engagement with the event.
The ultimate goal of the event is to create a path for economic developers to increase awareness of job creation programs, opportunities for career development and improve the quality of life in communities everywhere. Broken down further, the IEDC has 4 key goals for economic developers and Economic Development Week: Articulate your value, organize support within your community, tell the story about the importance of economic development, and amplify the current work you’ve done. Since its inception, the event has supported over 450 campaigns and the creation of materials from communities to share efforts across social media, websites and print.
How can I get involved?
Economic Development Week 2023 takes place May 8-12. On the IEDC’s Economic Development Week website, you can access the toolkit and images for promotion online and through social media. While it may be too late to plan big events, there are still opportunities to craft messaging and share successes within your community. You can also follow #EconDevWeek to keep up with tips, news and celebrations.
Economic Development is a key part in building up communities
Here at SourceLink, helping economic developers create and build small business-led growth is our driving mission. Through our work with various communities, entrepreneurial support organizations, and our SourceLink affiliates, we have first-hand knowledge of the incredible effort economic developers put forth and the tireless passion that drives them. Economic developers at times must take a hard look at their communities in order to evaluate gaps and identify opportunities for improvement, at times creating tension and difficult situations. They must be masters of communication and diplomacy, negotiators, researchers, and experts about their community. The hats economic developers must don and juggle are many, and they can go by many names, such as connectors, community developers and conveners. And, as a lot of the work is done behind the scenes, they may not always be recognized or known.
That’s why Economic Development Week was created: to celebrate the work economic development professionals do everyday and help them amplify their programs and initiatives. We know how much effort economic developers put forth to create a better future for all Americans and we’re excited to join the IEDC in uplifting these folks, not just for one week in May, but all year round.
Is your community celebrating Economic Development Week 2023? Drop us a comment at [email protected] and tell us how you’re celebrating your successes! Also, explore our network page to learn more from the amazing communities we work with that foster inclusiveness and provide support for their small businesses.