When I use “OUR” in quotation marks, I am suggesting that “OUR” means all of us.  Not simply the federal, state or local government.  Not only big corporations or wealthy investors.  But  “OUR” meaning each of us, individually and collectively.  What is our role in economic development?  Or better yet, what can our role be in economic development?

Let’s first define Economic Development:

Economic Development typically includes the programs and policies by which a nation, state, region or city improves the economic, political, and social well-being of its citizens.

Examples are:

  • Governments Policy that works to meet broad economic objectives such as high employment, and sustainable growth. Such efforts include monetary and fiscal policy, regulation of financial institutions, and tax policies.
  • Infrastructure and Service programs such as roads, bridges and highways, public parks, public art, housing, crime prevention, and K-12 education.
  • Job Creation and Retention through the use of investment, marketing, community development, labor development, real estate development and small business programs.
  • The promotion of Regional Clusters and concentrated metropolitan economies. Location is increasingly important and is a key competitive advantage in today’s global economy.

Essentially, a nation’s economic development is directly related to its human development.


You don’t have to be a sophisticated wealthy investor or a highly educated individual to contribute towards our nations economy.  You don’t have to wait until your federal, state or local government puts a measure in front of you to participate.  There are many ways that we can all participate in the growth of our economy.

For starters, you can join one of the many organizations that are contributing to our social, cultural and economic health.  Do your homework and join the organization that best fits your beliefs.

Some areas that we can all contribute towards are:

EDUCATION.  To me this is the most critical long-term element of economic development and growth.  In my mind, it really doesn’t matter whether we are talking about building a community, region or a nation.  All development starts with education!  

Become a mentor or offer your services to a local job-training program.  Take a class or simply become up to date on the relevent issues of your region.  

ADVOCACY.  We certainly need to let our voices be heard.  When we can collectively voice our concerns or agreements, planners can use this information as a key tool in creating economic development solutions.   However, just to be clear, I do firmly believe that simply pitching a tent and chanting about how much you don’t like something is NOT the way to go.

Join a private regional planning club that collectively creates concepts that can be presented to development leaders.


SERVICE.  With service, “individual impact” efforts not only bring short-term benefits to a community or region but also help to create long-term economic impact on our country as a whole.  The more we can do to make our regions better places to live and work, the better our chances of stimulating economic growth.

Join organization that provides for the needy or contribute your time and efforts towards a neighborhood beautification program.

INVESTMENT.  This topic always gets everyone’s attention.  Most often when speaking with people about “investment”, they view this as a large capital commitment that they could never possibly participate in or contribute towards.

Look into an Investment Club or Fund that is making investments in your region.  Your investment may be combined with others to help create the impact that you are looking for.

I think these are fantastic ways for any and all of us to help contribute towards the economic growth of our individual regions and of course the nation as a whole.

John F. Kennedy stated; “my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your county.

I think we all need to ask ourselves this every day.