Economic development is a profession unlike any other. It is a government or quasi-government creation, but the best in the business understand the motivations of private companies. It is a field that sometimes requires one to be bureaucratic but at the same time resourceful and efficient. It is an interesting mix of everything that drives the economy. An economic developer can often have to wear multiple hats and be sales, marketing, research, and project management on the same day. It was the perfect profession for me and I wanted to share my favorite aspect of what I love about it.
Exposure to many businesses
I never knew exactly what I wanted to be when it was time for me to enter the workforce. I considered everything under the sun, and I dipped my toe in a couple of different things. I was curious about everything but didn’t have the chance the dig deep into any profession.
Economic development changed that for me. I started my career in economic development in business attraction, which is working to find companies to move into a specific jurisdiction. I found myself targeting companies across tech, aerospace, food manufacturing, and much more. I started having conversations with executives in these industries and I got to learn about their business and we would regularly have conversations around what was driving their growth. It was awesome! I got to scratch my itch to learn about different professions all while getting paid to do it.
Helping my Community!
I felt rewarded in my career in economic development right away. I got to visit manufacturing plants and interact with community leaders. It made me more motivated to find companies interested in setting up their own facilities. Some of the achievements I am most proud of are helping to attract companies to Ohio and creating new jobs in my work with the state.
The Work is Different Every Day
Economic development is strategic and involves a lot of different job functions. It is rare that an economic development organization would have the funds to hire everyone that they need. I found myself with opportunities to learn more about sales, marketing, human resources, and I got to work in different software regularly. This is only touching on a few. Economic developers wear a lot of hats and forces the best in the business to learn new things.
Pathway to New Professions
Economic development is a great profession, but it can also lead to other great jobs. Once you find your niche within the industry, you might become a sales or marketing leader, or you might find yourself being well versed in fundraising or managing projects. You will also get to network constantly within your community as an economic developer. With new relationships come new opportunities!
I highly recommend finding an entry-level economic development job if you don’t know exactly what you want to do with your career. It is an interesting field with potential for growth, and most important, it is rewarding at the end of every day.
Craig, owner of Propel Development and EconomicDevelopmentJobs.co, came into economic development in 2014. He fell in love with the strategic nature of the industry and is passionate about making a positive impact on communities as well as helping others find their niche in economic development.