What is Economic Development?

Economic Development is programs, policies or activities that seek to improve the economic well-being and quality of life for a community.

What “economic development” means to you will depend on the community you live in. Each community has its own opportunities, challenges, and priorities.  Your economic development planning must include the people who live and work in the community.

On this page learn:

  • Economic development strategies
  • What is an economic development practitioner?
  • Who is responsible for economic development work?
  • What is an economic development organization?
  • Foundation for successful economic development
  • Next steps

Economic Development Strategies

Though economic development priorities vary, economic development strategies often aim for common, positive results, such as:

  • Creating more jobs and more job variety
  • Keeping businesses and getting new ones
  • A better quality of life
  • More people and businesses paying taxes
  • More productive use of property
  • Promoting your community’s assets
  • Making and selling more local products
  • Getting more skilled workers living in your community

Use the Strategic Planning Toolkit to develop a long term economic development plan

What is an Economic Development Practitioner?

Just like economic development is different for communities, so are the economic development practitioners that support them. Generally, an economic development practitioner:

  • Plans, designs, and delivers economic development strategies.
  • Acts as an important connection between public and private sectors and the community.
  • Takes part in economic development planning and sometimes leads or gives input into the policy-making process.
  • Administers policy, programs, and projects.

Who is Responsible for Economic Development work?

Many people doing economic development work are economic development practitioners or Economic Development Officers or “EDOs” for short. Some people don’t hold the official title in their job, but are doing economic development work all the time.

Lots of different groups can work in economic development, including:

  • Local Indigenous and non-Indigenous governments
  • Chambers of commerce
  • Technology or business incubators
  • Regional development agencies
  • Community colleges, universities and research institutions
  • Provincial and Federal governments
  • Special authorities (like airports, ports, etc.)
  • Not-for-profits & humanitarian organizations
  • Business and industry associations
  • Workforce development organizations
  • Neighbourhood groups
  • Utilities providers (help with business attraction and growth)

Their role in a community can include:

  • Leading economic development planning
  • Working toward the community’s mandate or vision for economic development
  • Supporting sector relationships
  • Communicating and responding to economic development concerns and opportunities
  • Leading projects to enhance economic development
  • Providing accountability, ensuring economic development isn’t an afterthought

What is an Economic Development Organization?

Economic development organizations deliver programs, policies, and activities to improve the economic well-being of their communities.

There are many organizations, regional trusts and Crown corporations dedicated to the economic development of B.C.

Foundation for Successful Economic Development

Economic development work needs a strong community foundation. Three principals for your economic development activities to succeed are:

Community Support

It is important to have the support of your community for everything from project plans and budgets, to marketing and promotion – your community members are very important.


Strong partnerships are essential to the success of your economic development activities. Partnerships will help to leverage resources, build capacity and encourage collaboration.


Start with an economic development plan and get feedback and approval. Once community support and partnerships are in place you are ready to get started.

We know communities aren’t one-size-fits-all. Our aim is for these economic development resources  to support your community’s goals, whether you’re urban or rural, large or small, Indigenous or non-Indigenous.

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