The Market for Prosperity

What Every Community Needs to Know to Optimize Economic Development

Published on October 09, 2019
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In the contemporary world of instant global communication, immediate information exchange, and multiple modes of rapid transportation, the process of choosing sites for new or expanded activity has become increasingly complex and sophisticated. Although some of the basic premises have remained unchanged since the earliest civilizations, the evolving nature of the economy is transforming the process of economic development.

Long before markets existed, human activity centered on geographic considerations such as water sources and fertile land. As markets developed and commerce expanded, economic activity and population centers tended to follow points of economic interaction such as major rivers, ports, stagecoach and railroad depots, terminal points of cattle trails, and major crossroads.

Over the past several decades, the economy has shifted significantly. Many of the fastest-growing industries did not exist or were minor aspects of the economy just a few years ago. Some firms that once had very limited location options because they were constrained to locating in major business hubs may now operate from virtually anywhere. At the same time, workforce challenges have become paramount due to fundamental trends in demographic patterns. The goals of corporations are expanding beyond short-term maximization of investor value to encompass broader environmental and social considerations tied to long-term success and sustainability. The possibilities for economic development have notably expanded but have also become much more dynamic and complex. Communities face both the traditional challenges as well as new ones. Understanding the nature of the location decision process can be helpful both in formulating economic development policy and in obtaining meaningful rates of return on the investment of these scarce and important resources. This report seeks to provide a framework for local community leaders to embrace the process of economic development.

For more details please refer to the full report.