If you haven’t heard, it’s Economic Development Week (yes, right now), and Salt Lake City’s Department of Economic Development is excited to participate this year. Our team is really excited about some of the great stuff happening around us (and not just because it’s our job). You want examples? OK – we’re pretty pumped about the fact that our team is now staffed, the blossoming Granary District (which is one of two areas with a Main Street America designation), the generational opportunity that is the Northwest Quadrant, Twilight Concert Series, the Arts Council’s public art program, and the many incredible festivals and concerts that make Salt Lake City such a special and unique place. Perhaps what we’re most excited about though, are the opportunities that have yet to present themselves to us.
We love that our job is focused on bringing companies into town, and subsequently more jobs. We also focus on making sure that arts and culture is accessible to everyone, and boosting the energy and vibe of the city with revitalization projects. So, we know the answer to why it’s important to invest in economic development, but do you?
Economic development is at the core of well-being and quality of life for communities across the United States. It is a group of policies, programs, and activities that seek to create and retain jobs and ultimately facilitate economic growth. Economic development is infrastructure development, investment promotion, advancement of manufacturing, innovation and entrepreneurship, and access to financial opportunities that are designed to promote economic development and improve prosperity for citizens. You can learn more on the International Economic Development Council’s website.
Amy Liu of the Brookings Institute echoes and expands on this idea in an article titled “Why Economic Development Matters” when she states, “The goal of economic development . . . is to put a region on a path to higher growth by improving the productivity of firms and people in ways that leads to better incomes and living standards for all.” Sounds good, right?! We would carry that though a step further and submit that, at its best (and we strive to be the best), economic development should also bring arts and culture, rejuvenate and revitalize neighborhoods, and make our lives better through increased living standards and creating more diverse, interesting, and fun places and experiences to our already incredible city. That is why economic development is important and why it is a worthy and necessary investment.
*Blog post contributed by William Wright