The field of economic development as a profession is focused on economic growth. Economic growth is understood by analyzing the market. The market is based upon supply and demand. Supply and demand is concerned with optimum efficiency. But efficient economic development is not always equitable economic development. And, equitable economic development is essentially community development in an economic development context.
A conceptual framework for equity-driven economic growth illustrates the differences between the efficiency orientation of traditional economic development and the equity orientation of community development. Our orientation toward the profession is manifest in the manner in which we structure our EDOs. A top-down, efficiency-, market- and resource driven structure inevitably drives our outcomes toward efficient economic development. A bottom-up, remedial-market, community-driven structure inevitably drives our outcomes toward equitable development.
The convergence of efficient economic development and equitable economic development is “The New Economic Development” that drives EDOs to the cutting edge of the industry. It is at once a holistic approach to economic growth that creates capital and community wealth instead of aggravating existing inequities by simply moving capital around the urban landscape in a zero-sum sort of way.
Below is my conceptual framework for equity-driven economic growth, which I presented last year at International Economic Development Council’s Annual Conference.
Conceptual Framework for Equity-Driven Economic Growth
|Dimension||Economic Development||Community Development|
|Policies and programs explicitly directed at improving the business climate through specific efforts, business finance, marketing, neighborhood development, business retention and expansion, technology transfer, real estate development and others.||A process of creating and utilizing physical, human, financial and social assets that decreases inequality in development by raising the standard of living and improving the quality of life.|
|Orientation of Profession||Efficiency
Economic – Profit Maximizing
Political – Fair, Just, Equitable
|Direction of Authority
Direction of Communication
|Organizational/Service Orientation||Market-Driven / Competition||Remedy Market Distortions / Collaboration|
|An EDO’s Tools and Strategies||EFFICIENCY-ORIENTED TOOLS & STRATEGIESSupply-Side Incentives (Reduce Production Costs)
Demand-Side Incentives (Promote Growth throughout the Local Market)
|EQUITY-ORIENTED TOOLS & STRATEGIES