Economic development efforts tend to focus more on places than on people. Investing in projects such as a new stadium, casino, or convention center seems like the better long-term bet for a city. The ROI for encouraging residents to pursue higher education, for example, isn’t readily apparent. People that you invest in might move out of your city, but the local projects you build are going to stay here.
However, ideas surrounding economic development are starting to shift. More and more often, economic development strategies are starting to focus on people, technology, and economic activity that relies on ideas, knowledge, experience, and quality of life.
Thriving cities must find a balance. They need to focus on both place-based economic development and strategies that focus on people within the community. When you keep the human side of economic development in mind, the city and all its residents benefit.
The Importance Of Talented People
The education level of the population in your city is the single most important factor that shapes economic success. In fact, we can explain 60% of the variation in per capita incomes among metropolitan areas just by looking at what portion of the adult population has a four-year degree.
This means that if you want economic success, you need to attract talented, educated, and skilled people to your area. In order to do this, economic development efforts need to tackle issues like city livability and affordable housing. Things like upgrading sidewalks and sewage systems might not seem like a good way to develop your economy, but if those projects keep high-earning people in your city they’re well worth it.
A Need To Improve City Environment
Developing your city’s physical and business environment can go a long way toward creating a vibrant local economy. There’s a lot more to economic growth than simply building new projects. Site selection and development, improving municipal infrastructure, and other forms of strategic planning all have to play a role.
For example, retailers want to locate in cities where they’ll have an easier time connecting with their target customers. And that means your city needs to be a place where people want to live, work, and shop. Building diverse, interesting urban spaces that are friendly to walking and biking with convenient parking for those who drive is a key part of this.
How To Analyze Where You Are Now
It’s hard to take into consideration everything related to economic development when your city’s working on its own. Hiring a retail development expert gives you a huge advantage in finding a way to balance all the economic development needs of your city and population.
Here are Retail Attractions, we consult with cities on economic and retail development, municipal infrastructure, strategic planning, demographic data and market analysis, and much more. We’ll help you find the best way to grow your economy, attract new businesses, and fill the needs of our population. Simply contact us today to learn more.
If you liked this article, be sure to pick up a copy of my new book The Devil’s In the Details: Things that Challenge City Government and the Language of Development. It addresses issues that undermine foundational economic development efforts for cities. It also provides guidelines for how to overcome those issues. Click here to order.