What does it take to be an economic developer today? There’s no magic to it. It’s not like being a doctor where you have to go to medical school. It’s not like becoming a lawyer where you have to go to law school or pass the bar exam. Each of us is an economic developer. Each of us has the ability to leverage our resources or the resources of the groups we are a part of to make a difference. There is simply too much to be done to not engage everyone, everywhere possible.
Some of the great economic development being done in this country is being done by those involved in micro-lending and crowd sourcing, people combining their pennies into millions of dollars to create new companies or launch new products. We see large, high-growth churches that are active in changing the future of people through helping them get jobs. Through job training or simply encouraging their members to buy local, neighborhood grocery stores are investing in the local economy. Neighborhood associations, foundations and charities are getting involved in new ways to grow our communities.
To change the future we must all come together around a common mission and belief that the most powerful force for change is a well-paying job. I believe if we empower people to lift themselves up economically and ensure we are creating jobs that they are prepared for, they will manage the other aspects of their lives and our communities.
We all are economic developers. I just happen to get to do it every day for a living. I was lucky enough to find out early that I care more about people than profit. And guess what? Most companies, most churches, most governmental institutions and most philanthropic groups all believe that too.