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What Is Economic Development?

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  • Written By: Nicole Long
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 14 August 2014
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Economic development involves allocating a community’s resources, such as land and capital, to encourage economic growth and increase wealth. This can include adding jobs, increasing business development, and building necessary infrastructure. Innovation, competition, and developing partnerships are among the goals of development efforts on local, national, and global levels.

While economic development can focus on the local community, it is different than community development. It seeks to enhance the wealth of a community and can provide the stimulus and money needed for community development. Community development seeks to improve the aesthetics of the community and institute improvements that make it more attractive and enjoyable for residents and visitors.

One of the focuses of economic development is to reach out to existing businesses. This can include using fiscal intervention, such as tax breaks, to encourage existing businesses to hire more workers and help spur job growth. Another concern of development officials is the need to retain existing employers.

Expanding the business base is also a goal of development professionals. Offers including local, county, or state owned land at reduced rates and tax incentives may provide the incentive necessary for businesses to expand or relocate to the area. Local officials may work with both state and regional chambers of commerce to attract new business.

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Creating an environment that can provide fiscal stability within a community or region is another goal. Working together, business expansion, retention, and growth help provide the necessary tax revenue for important infrastructure development and improvement. This infrastructure development, such as highways and bridges, can help attract business development in the future and encourage existing businesses to stay.

Economic development also encourages entrepreneurship and supports emerging industries. This can be accomplished through the use of private and public resources and investments. Groups specifically assembled to help entrepreneurs plan, start, and grow a new business are an extension of local, state, and national programs, efforts, and ideals.

Other efforts of development professionals are aimed at creating a sustainable economic environment. This includes diversifying the types of corporations and businesses within the local, state, or national economy. Another aspect is helping local businesses promote products and services on a larger scale. This can contribute to an increase in sales, profits, and tax revenues. It also helps develop a sense of appreciation and mutual respect between corporations and development officials.

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Comparables
Post 3

@GiraffeEars- I always hear people talking about GDP being used to measure economic development, but this seems flawed. An economic development plan based only on increasing GDP puts no value on the type of development that takes place or whether the economic development that occurs is good for society. GDP growth can occur from things that are detrimental to society, which would contradict the idea of development. I would assume that development of a nation would mean the progress of a nation.

What I mean by all of this is simple. Things like the costs associated with natural disasters, illnesses, and death all add to the GDP, but they are not necessarily good for society.

In the case of the United States, health care costs are a huge portion of GDP. These costs are driving the country into debt and rising costs are diverting income and revenue from more meaningful types of growth. This is only one example of many, but to me it seems like there is a general disconnect between what is good for corporate America and what is good for Americans.

GiraffeEars
Post 2

@amphibious54- One common measure of development is GDP. GDP is a measure of all of the goods and services produced by a country in a given period. I would think this would be the basic indicator most economic development agencies would use. I think most economists use GDP as the main indicator of development.

Amphibious54
Post 1

What indicators are used to measure levels of economic development? I am talking about indicators and development on a national and international scale. Is there an international economic development council that tracks development in foreign countries? Do most governments share development theories, or do they differ widely from region to region?

I ask because I want to understand why some countries are able to develop and some are not. I would assume that countries that follow a worldview on economic development would have little problem developing at a steady and sustainable pace.

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