The Importance of Economic Development Organizations

Jon Scott's picture

In order to ensure the current and future success of businesses in a particular area, many state and regional governments enlist the help of economic development organizations (or “agencies”). In most cases, these organizations work with businesses and/or local government to act in the interest of local businesses, seek new economic opportunities, and develop new partnerships to drive economic growth. The duties and services of these economic development organizations vary by region, and this month we’re covering some of the most important items for driving future growth. 

Access to Business Properties 

For businesses, location is everything. A proper business property should be in a favorable area as well as provide room for expansion should it become necessary. Various factors come into play when choosing among available properties, and this can pose a challenge for business owners who have more work to do than time in their days. 

Economic development organizations often provide consultation and even useful online tools to find new properties throughout the region, making the process much more efficient. 

Data, Demographics, and Research 

Even before the right location is chosen, many companies need to determine whether a community is ideal for their business. From demographics data to major industries and the latest publications, an economic development agency can truly be a comprehensive resource for any business, large or small. 

As an example, Greater Reading Economic Partnership provides a host of reports and data from a variety of sources to both streamline site selection processes and showing the economic strengths and opportunities of our region. 

Business Financial Resources and Incentives 

Often, a significant factor that makes or breaks a new or expanding business is finances. The role of an economic development organization is often to be the sole point of contact for these businesses to ensure every aspect of their journey runs smoothly and efficiently. 

In some cases, this role also includes connecting businesses to loans for land acquisition or working capital, grants and tax credits, as well as other incentives to which the business owners may be unaware. In this way, economic development organizations do more than advocate for a region; they partner with businesses directly to ensure success. 

Workforce Training 

Once the location is solidified and the finances are in order, next comes securing a trained, dedicated workforce. Economic development agencies often provide access to training programs and facilities as well as points of contact throughout the region’s 

technical training and/or higher education facilities. From the perspective of a business owner, it pays to have the ability to easily hire skilled workers as well as provide local training for existing employees. 

Business to Business Relations 

Once a business is fully established in an area, the ability to form partnerships and contacts becomes an important next step. Whether via networking events or through local organizations, the more connections a business is able to make, the more profitable opportunities it will have in the long-term. An economic development organization’s role in facilitating these relationships can range from hosted events to online business directories. 

Greater Reading is unique in this realm due to our supportive business network. Combining events, activities with business development organizations and additional regional resources allows businesses to connect with major players in our community, forge new partnerships, and work together to drive fresh ideas and new profitable ventures.