1 min read
May 11, 2023


This column originally appeared on PWCDED Executive Director Christina Winn’s LinkedIn profile

Last month, our team was prepping for a fast-moving prospect. We were pulling data, researching assets, bringing SMEs to the table, writing the proposal, and polishing our pitch – it was exciting and stressful at the same time. My exhilarated colleague commented: "It feels good to be doing REAL economic development work, doesn’t it?"

I was too busy in the moment, but later, I had time to reflect on that question.

As economic developers, we are often brought into discussions and projects because we are generalists, the jacks-of-all-trades, and the “go-to” people who possess the problem-solving skills to get a project moving and deliver results. We are often thrust into economic development related projects such as workforce development; fair and affordable housing and childcare; and sustainability.

Yet quality of life is increasingly becoming more important in site selection decisions due to the change in workforce behaviors and remote work preferences. Although it is fun when we get to go back to our roots and do what we all fell in love with: which, for many of us, is the pitch and winning the project, this other work is really what makes the pitch possible.

It’s a reflection made even more impactful during this annual Economic Development Week. As president of the Virginia Economic Developers Association (VEDA), I cannot emphasize enough that “economic development is everyone’s business.”

Our work has expanded not only because economic developers cannot improve communities alone, but also because we need established community support – and that takes work.

So lean in and embrace the new work of economic development because, to quote a favorite movie of mine, when you think big, “nothing can prepare you for the unbridled carnage you’re about to witness.”

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