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Alphabet Soup: What is Economic Development

Have you ever considered what attracts a business to a certain community? Or why you chose to live where you do? Is it the proximity to and a variety of restaurants, entertainment opportunities, or places to work? Did you ever wonder what it took to make your neighborhood one that you WANT to live in? Behind every community is a group of businesses and individuals working to create positive change, those dedicated professionals are economic developers. Economic Development is more than meets the eye, which is why we’re pulling back the curtain to expose all of the moving parts behind making our community a great one to be a part of.

Economic development. Two words smooshed together to create a definition grander than the sum of its parts. A quick Google search will tell you the purpose is to promote well-being and quality of life for communities by creating high-quality jobs and developing a vibrant region. The definition seems simple. Make your community a great place to be, and everything else will fall into place. However, knowing what decisions to make and how to attract businesses that add to quality of life takes a lot of planning and foresight. What seems like a business or company showing up overnight actually takes years of patience, strategy, and planning to help them be successful in the area.

“A great community needs all ingredients of live, work, and play to be successful. Community aspects are essential to bring in workers. We invest and reinvest into recreational amenities because it makes the quality of life better for everyone.” – Town Supervisor Michael Cashman

Let’s take a look at our own community. How does economic development impact the North Country? When a new business, such as a restaurant or a manufacturing company, establishes in our community jobs are created. The employees that fill these jobs will likely spend the money they earn locally on groceries, gasoline, and entertainment. This keeps money in our region, which in turn helps to attract the next new business.

However, people don’t stay somewhere solely for their jobs. They want to be able to live comfortably in their location with fun activities to do. Residents in the North County have access to Lake Champlain for boating and fishing, and the Adirondack Mountain range for hiking. Our region offers fun experiences for food lovers, outdoor enthusiasts, and art connoisseurs. People can visit local breweries and coffee shops, climb a mountain, or see local artisans at the Strand — the possibilities are endless. Our geographic location is also big sell for residence as they can easily access Canada, Vermont, Albany, and NYC. Believe it or not, having a plethora of fun activities to do outside of work is a big part of economic development.

Think about it, having a great job and a great place to live all contribute to your quality of life. Even the everyday things we take for granted, like available transportation, clean drinking water, childcare, convenient crosswalks, and outdoor recreational spaces are crucial to attracting and retaining investments in a community.

The biggest takeaway to understanding economic development is that it is a multi-level approach, everything builds off something else. There is no way for a community to be successful without growing the number of available jobs, investing in infrastructure, expanding tourism opportunities, and supporting high-quality life. Economic development is a constant cycle growing, attracting, and planning for the next big thing.

Hungry for more Alphabet soup? Read more! TDC’s Alphabet Soup blog series aims to demystify Economic Development and shed some light on our partners in the community who work to make Northern NY a great place to live and do business.

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