What Is Economic Development

By Kathy Henderson, Director of Economic Development

What is Economic Development?  I recently asked that question of high school students and was not at all surprised to get blank stares and crickets.  

People have many different ideas of what economic development is and some have no idea at all.

Jeff Finkle, President and CEO of the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) defines economic development as “being about creating places where people want to invest, work and live. It’s about making connections between people, companies, institutions, and communities.”

In order to bring successful economic development to a county, there has to be a strategic plan or a road map to give direction to decision makers.  

We are very lucky here in Carbon County to have such a plan.  In 2013, the county commissioners approved Resolution number 13-028 formally adopting the Carbon County Comprehensive and Greenways Plan.  The opening page provides the following information: “This Plan provides an overall set of policies for the future development and conservation of Carbon County over the next 15 years.  The purpose of the Comprehensive and Greenway Plan is to help ensure this change is positive and that Carbon County retains the qualities that make people want to live, work and visit the County”.

The Comprehensive Plan is very detailed and provides guidance from protecting our natural resources to an Economic Development and Downtown Plan to helping current and potential employers obtain the services necessary to conduct business and maintain an active workforce. 

The Economic Development and Downtown Plan provides an “Action Plan Checklist” which includes goals from job training programs to zoning.  The organizations that are responsible for each of these tasks are also indicated on this form.   

This is Carbon County’s roadmap to Economic Development success.  Here at the Carbon Chamber and Economic Development Corp. we take this plan seriously and continually refer to it when working on a project.  We have achieved or assisted in reaching many of the goals in the outline. We continue to work on ongoing projects and envision what the future could look like.  

We still have a lot of work to do, but in the past 5 years since the Carbon Chamber and  Development has come into being, we have been able to help bring about the creation of new businesses, help existing businesses to grow and recruited a large corporation to expand in our county.  

This is just the beginning and we are so excited to keep moving our county in the direction that was mapped out for us in 2013.

What is Economic Development?  It is something that is everyone’s goal from the Chamber and Economic Development to local merchants to borough councils and township supervisors, downtown property owners, and non-profit organizations.  We all have a stake in making our county the best that it can be. A place that retains the qualities that make people want to live, work and visit.