Your Community's Economic Development Vision and Goals

The Role of Local Elected Officials in Economic Development: 10 Things You Should Know is part of the Center for Research and Innovation’s ongoing work to provide city leaders with the skills to become informed, strategic decision-makers in economic development. The “ten things” were derived from analysis of successful city programs and interviews with economic development professionals, elected leaders, academics and business organizations.

    A primary challenge in the practice of economic development is choosing among many competing priorities and various activities.  A clear economic vision and goals are needed to provide a framework for strategically assessing and coordinating these efforts.  The vision stems from the community's values, its collective sense of local economic strengths and weaknesses, and consensus on a desired future. Goals are more tangible expressions of the vision and provide specific direction for actions.

    For example, the City of Albuquerque, New Mexico's economic development initiative "thrive!ABQ" identifies the city's economic vision as a city with a vibrant business climate that's accessible, user-friendly and welcoming to all.  The three primary goals of "thrive!ABQ" are:

    • Albuquerque First: Retain existing businesses and industries by fostering partnerships with local businesses and increasing spending in the community.
    • Albuquerque Easy: Remove barriers to conducting business within the city.
    • Albuquerque Recruits: Make the city an attractive place for businesses to locate.

    According to the American Planning Association's Economic Development Toolbox (2006), a sound economic vision and goals should:

    1. Balance what the jurisdiction would like to achieve with what resources and public support the jurisdiction can realistically expect to muster in support of that vision. 
    2. Be consistent with the role of the jurisdiction's economy in the larger regional and state economies. 
    3. Be understandable to citizens without technical training or experience in economic development.
    4. Be produced in a way that makes it possible to incorporate it in the jurisdiction's comprehensive plan. 

    If your city already has an economic development vision, make sure your policy decisions reflect the principles in the vision.  In cities that do not have an economic vision, local elected officials can help initiate a community visioning effort.  A well-designed visioning process will surface an array of ideas, opinions and objectives from a diverse group of stakeholders.  An important role for elected officials is to help bring people to consensus and agreement on a common purpose.

    < 2. Your Community's Place in the Broader Regional Economy
    4. Your Community's Strategy to Attain its Goals >

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