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Economic Development Officer

What They Do

Economists Career Video

Insider Info

An economic development officer is a community-minded person whose job is to enhance the economics of a town or region. These officers develop policies and administer programs to promote business investment and economic growth in urban and rural areas.

They usually act as consultants and advisors to their employer, be it a city council or a business development group. They may conduct social and economic surveys to assess development potential and future trends. They also carry out the administrative and financial duties of the organization or department that employs them.

Government, nonprofit organizations, tourism associations and the finance, insurance and real estate industries all hire economic development officers to help promote or expand their businesses or communities.

Good ideas for improving the economy are valuable to economic development officers. Among those ideas could be business incentives and workforce development, says Julie Denise of the International Economic Development Council.

Other ideas that officers are using to improve the economies of their towns are industrial development bonds, revolving loan funds and business incubation. The needs of a community would determine what an officer would do to improve the economy.

Some economic developers in the United States work for utility companies -- especially power companies looking to expand their clientele. "These economic developers market the land surrounding the right of way of the utility company," explains Dorothy Collins, executive director of the Mid-American Economic Development Council, based in Illinois.

"The utility companies buy up large expanses of land around their rights of way. Then it's up to the economic development department to promote those tracts of land and put companies there that will use their power source."

This isn't a 9-to-5 job. Economic developers spend a lot of time outside the office, holding meetings and seminars or making community presentations in the evenings and on weekends.

Physical ability has little impact on this position. However, management skills, effective communication, and an ability to handle stress and juggle several projects at once are absolutely necessary qualities.

At a Glance

Promote business investment and economic growth

  • Expect to work some evenings and weekends
  • You'll need good management skills
  • Consider professional certification


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