How Economic Development Corporations and Associations Work

Whether intended to benefit a city, a community or a country, economic development sets forth a course of action. Plans established through this procedure explore the needs of the community in question and design the guidelines for both immediate actions for enhancement as well as long-term strategies for improvement and growth. Economic development can be based solely on the economy or it can be broadened to encompass political policies or individual well-being.

About Economic DevelopmentEconomic development agencies can be created by governmental agencies, by land developers or simply by concerned citizens and can be compared to chambers of commerce.

In either case the main objective is to study the attributes of a specific area and based on those findings, recommend changes when necessary to enhance or augment any deficiencies. Most economic development corporations and associations are established as non-profit organizations that exist solely for the purpose of designing plans to improve the current status of a designated area and devising ways of planning for the future.

Quantifiable statistics are gathered pertaining to the overall characteristics of the area to include but not be limited to:

  • Employment and income
  • Real estate and housing
  • Neighborhoods and crime
  • Educational deficiencies and illiteracy
  • Poverty
  • Schools
  • Parks and recreation areas
  • Streets and highways
  • Environmental aspects


Such studies may involve more extensive investigation into employment, job creation and job retention. It may be necessary to conduct a marketing survey in order to specify the services and businesses needed. The community may need to designate a location for future industry and manufacturing and to retrofit that area to accommodate business retention, expansion and development.

Subcommittees may need to be established for the purpose of recruiting new businesses and industries to the area. Some cooperatives purchase land and develop it for industrial parks. Many governing agencies will allow newly established, expanded or relocated companies moving into the area an amnesty period during which no taxes are assessed.

Development processes generally do not include plans for economic growth; however, the end result of most successful economic development plans is growth. And, without a viable plan in place, growth can be overwhelming and fall extremely short of expectations. A theme park or major attraction locating in any area that has an insufficient infrastructure can be both a blessing and a curse. The increase in employment is over-shadowed by the lack of supporting businesses, insufficient schools, inadequate streets, the lack of financial institutions and deficiencies in affordable housing.

Many states are now requiring counties to implement land use plans, loosely based on the local government’s zoning ordinance that spells out the uses allowable on every piece of property that is located within the local governmental jurisdiction. These plans must be amended through the state if any use other the uses specified for that particular property is proposed by an individual, company or cooperative.

Neither a government nor a corporation can be sure of what the future of any area will hold. The only things they can be certain of are the statistics gleaned from their pre-development investigation and the fact that there will be growth of some kind regardless of whether or not it is anticipated.