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The Virtuous Cycle of Economic Development

By: Chad Ruston on October 29th, 2019

Success in Economic Development Requires Business Leadership

There is a virtuous cycle in economic development. We can all relate to the pleasure that comes from a new restaurant, a higher-paying job, a smooth road, renovations to a historic theater, enhanced broadband coverage, new housing development or improvements to a local school. The list of enhancements to a community can be endless, but without success in economic development, there is no list. 

Many individuals will spend a lifetime never thinking about economic development nor the impact it has had on them personally. For those of us who think about it daily, however, we know that effective economic development takes decades and is not easy to achieve. The truth is, economic development happens because leaders make it happen. 

The Linkages

In economic development, there are many linkages. The communities who are “winning” understand these linkages and are focused on constant improvement in these areas.  They understand that if the quality of place is outstanding, people are attracted to it and will potentially move to that community. As the population increases, we build a larger and better workforce. Where there is talent, there will be business and community investment. 

The result of all these linkages? There are more jobs and higher competition for these jobs, which drives up wages. This wealth within the community leads to higher gross domestic product (GDP), which results in higher individual prosperity. And finally, when people are more prosperous, there is continued investment in the quality of place. 

This virtuous cycle is messy and only exists when leaders in the community are all working toward a similar set of objectives and goals. That’s the difference between a community that is winning and one that is not, it's the constant acceleration within this cycle that creates an economy that is globally relevant and competitive. 

The Fundamental Principles

In reality, advancing the virtuous cycle of economic development is extremely difficult, but it is possible and requires three fundamental principles:

  1. There must be a region of leaders committed to the region’s economic prosperity.
  2. There must be a sound strategy based on data and insights.
  3. There must be a laser-focused and disciplined approach to executing on what we say we will do.

Resources are limited, and strategic decisions require choices. As a region, we cannot afford to not work together toward common goals. We must convene. We must confront. We must collaborate. And we must do this with a collective voice. 

As we head into 2020, we must capitalize on the momentum we have earned as a region and ensure we fully address the above three fundamental principles.

In the coming months, we will continue to expand this thought of the virtuous cycle of economic development as well as take a deeper look at what we are doing at the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership to drive regional prosperity. Until then, continue to think of the virtuous cycle of economic development and how it impacts you directly. The next time you purchase an item from a new boutique or take the grandkids to a new ice cream parlor, stop and think for a moment about what has had to happen to make this a reality. Those new shirts or ice cream cones are a part of the virtuous cycle of economic development and are thanks to the business leadership focused on making this region a better place. 

If you are reading this, then you are one of those leaders and it is because of you that Northeast Indiana has momentum heading into 2020 and is the path to be one of the nation’s most prosperous regions.

Categories & Tags Business Climate