Looking forward, the week of May 9th is “National Economic Development Week,” which was created by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC), with the purpose of increasing awareness of our local programs that create jobs, advance career-development opportunities, and improve our communities’ quality of life.
The IEDC defines economic development as the intentional practice of improving a community’s economic well-being and quality of life. It includes a broad range of activities to attract, create, and retain jobs, and to foster a resilient, pro-growth tax base and an inclusive economy. The practice of economic development comprises a collaborative effort involving industry, government, and myriad community stakeholders.
The Partnership’s professional practice of economic development falls into many categories, but all are tied together and must work in tandem to support/create a thriving local economy.
Existing businesses and entrepreneurs are the source of the most job creation. To grow our economy, existing businesses need options to expand locally – whether its needs are for physical space, financial capital, talented workforce, and or cost reduction programs – the Partnership works in all of these areas. The Partnership has been busy establishing a network of entrepreneur support services that can assist from the business idea stage to a successful business launch. These entrepreneurs are also good mentors and help create a culture of innovation and entrepreneurism.
Businesses need talented workers to operate, now more than ever. At the same time, talented workers want to live in communities with beautifully designed places and a high quality of life. Therefore, the Partnership’s focus in design and placemaking and workforce development are a high priority.
A successful business attraction program requires a “product” that offers functional available buildings and/or greenfield sites that have access to infrastructure including water, sewer, utilities, and roadways. Therefore, the Partnership has been working closely with Stephenson County and the City of Freeport to extend water and sewer services to county-owned Mill Race Crossing Industrial Park.
The Partnership’s focus in tourism is also a practice of economic development by creating and marketing internally and externally our communities’ brand as a place not only to visit but to live and work as well. This will be playing an even bigger role as regions like ours continue to not only attract talent, but also retain talent who are now working here remotely.
We will be taking a deeper-dive into are specific focus areas during Economic Development Week, so stay tuned.
As always, the Partnership cannot do this work alone, and that is why we are committed to continuous collaboration with our business, education, and government partners so Freeport and Stephenson County become the destination of choice to live, work, and play.
Mark Williams is the Executive Director of the Greater Freeport Partnership and can be reached at email@example.com.