Diversity in Economic Development

One of the biggest challenges that we face in economic development today is how to effectively build communities that will produce successful families and individuals. Economic developers work relentlessly to create economic opportunities, but it is increasingly difficult to achieve economic inclusion and mobility for individuals in the lower income strata.

In order to make places better for everyone over the long-run, economic developers need to be thinking differently about who the jobs that we create are for. Should we be focused on high paying jobs or should we also be focused on jobs and investment that can impact the lives of current residents, or even target people who have been left behind? This creates some challenges as our work has not historically been oriented that way, but in order to move forward and make changes these questions must be asked.

Achieving more diverse and equitable outcomes in our communities will require making new relationships with organizations that economic development organizations may not have formally engaged with in the past. Oftentimes investing in more distressed areas may be harder and take a longer time, but thinking differently about metrics and goals will be required in order to make any strides whatsoever. Keeping this perspective will help hold us accountable to the whole community.