An economic development officer is a community-minded person whose job
is to enhance the economics of a town or region. These officers develop policies
and administer programs to promote business investment and economic growth
in urban and rural areas.
They usually act as consultants and advisors to their employer, be it a
city council or a business development group. They may conduct social and
economic surveys to assess development potential and future trends. They also
carry out the administrative and financial duties of the organization or department
that employs them.
Government, nonprofit organizations, tourism associations and the finance,
insurance and real estate industries all hire economic development officers
to help promote or expand their businesses or communities.
Good ideas for improving the economy are valuable to economic development
officers. Among those ideas could be business incentives and workforce development,
says Julie Denise of the International Economic Development Council.
Other ideas that officers are using to improve the economies of their towns
are industrial development bonds, revolving loan funds and business incubation.
The needs of a community would determine what an officer would do to improve
Some economic developers in the United States work for utility companies
-- especially power companies looking to expand their clientele. "These economic
developers market the land surrounding the right of way of the utility company,"
explains Dorothy Collins, executive director of the Mid-American Economic
Development Council, based in Illinois.
"The utility companies buy up large expanses of land around their rights
of way. Then it's up to the economic development department to promote those
tracts of land and put companies there that will use their power source."
This isn't a 9-to-5 job. Economic developers spend a lot of time outside
the office, holding meetings and seminars or making community presentations
in the evenings and on weekends.
Physical ability has little impact on this position. However, management
skills, effective communication, and an ability to handle stress and juggle
several projects at once are absolutely necessary qualities.