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Championing Economic Development

Championing Economic Development – EDRP Research Report

Communities agree that supporting local businesses is crucial to local and regional economic vitality. The means to that end can be hotly contested though - how policies are enacted and implemented, who benefits from the policies, what types of resources are used, and others. As the practice of economic development has evolved and become more nuanced – more scientific, data driven, results-oriented, specialized and broader – it has also come under increased scrutiny from stakeholders including elected officials, media, academia, and even some special interest groups.

The Championing Economic Development paper examines the reasons for skepticism and provides recommendations for economic development professionals on how to address these issues both internally and externally. The accompanying handy, easy-to-use toolkit is a one-stop resource for economic developers to champion their efforts and educate all stakeholders on the work they do, why they do it, and how they do it.

Several new tools will continue to be added to the toolkit over the next several months. So be sure to check back often.

» IEDC Member download
» Purchase in the bookstore
» Executive summary


Tools and Resources

The resources and tools on this page are designed to help economic developers engage and educate stakeholders in their communities about the work they do, why they do it, how they do it and its impacts. More resources will continue to be added over the next several months.

One-pagers: Key Economic Development Strategies

These one-page flyers describe the "why" and impact of core economic development strategies, including business retention and expansion; marketing and business attraction; entrepreneurship and small business development; workforce development; and foreign direct investment, plus one that describes economic development generally. They can be used to quickly explain key programs to audiences who are unfamiliar with the concepts. Customize them in print by adding information about your EDO’s work on back side.

» Business Retention and Expansion
» Marketing and Business Attraction
» Small Business and Entrepreneurship Development
» Workforce Development
» Foreign Direct Investment
» Economic Development

What is Economic Development

Economic development is the intentional practice of improving a community’s economic well-being and quality of life. It includes a broad-range of activities to attract, create, and retain jobs, and to foster a resilient, progrowth tax base and an inclusive economy. The practice of economic development comprises of a collaborative effort involving industry, government and myriad community stakeholders.

» Download the brochure to learn more

What is Economic Development Presentation

This slide deck is built to provide a broad overview of economic development and its components. Use it with an audience who has limited understanding of the breadth, depth and complexity of economic development. Adapt it to your local context by including additional information about your community, your organization and your programs.

» Download the presentation

Who Economic Development Programs Help and How

This brochure gives a higher level overview of who and how economic development programs help, including examples of some of the services that EDOs typically provide. Whether your organization provides all of these services or just a few, economic development programs around the country impact myriad people's lives in very different and consequential ways.

Download the brochure

Why invest in economic development in good times?

When the value of economic development programs is called into question, with arguments like strong economy and current worker shortage, it is important to dispel myths about the role of economic development in ensuring the long term resiliency of a community during good and bad economic times. This brochure provides the rationale of why investing in economic development is good for a community.

Download the brochure

Why Invest in Economic Development

» Download the brochure

IEDC is proud to provide this resource, Why Invest in Economic Development, to our members, elected officials, public servants and all those interested in supporting economic development.

The federal government has always played a key supporting role in local and regional job creation. Included in this publication are only a fraction of federally funded programs which are leading the way as we work toward our common objective: a stronger, more resilient, more inclusive economy for all. For a modest investment of taxpayer dollars, these programs consistently offer a high rate of return. Equally as important, they are often working in communities and policy areas that might be otherwise overlooked by larger agencies and programs. By targeting specific services, regions or demographics, these examples of federal economic development efforts are able to be more impactful and would not be easily absorbed or duplicated by other agencies. These programs are an essential part of a broader effort to maximize opportunity for every American.

Federally funded economic development programs included in this publication are not just worthy of our support, but more so, they should be championed.

Use of logos throughout this publication does not necessarily imply affiliation or endorsement.


Hear from experts in the field about how they engage with key stakeholders in their community and build partnerships.


This is economic development


How do you convey the value of economic development?


Who are your partners?


Communicating with elected officials


How to build relationships with the media


Communicating with stakeholders


Economic developers talk about incentives


How to respond to negative rhetoric about economic development