What is Economic Development?

I ran into an esteemed colleague the other day while enjoying a cup of coffee in our Downtown Arts and Entertainment District. As we talked, the colleague stated he had seen a lot of economic development progress within Cathedral City lately and felt the city was building substantial positive momentum. After sharing his sincere appreciation for Cathedral City’s recent successes, he followed up with the question, “What exactly is economic development”? As an accredited economic developer, I get this question a lot.

In all but the most affluent cities, effective leadership involves crafting and implementing a comprehensive economic strategy and intentionally funding the required action steps. While economic development is often cited as a crucial local, regional, or national priority, economic development is frequently misunderstood, undervalued, and under-resourced.

According to the International Economic Development Council, at its core economic development is “programs, policies, and activities that seek to improve the economic well-being and quality of life for a community, by creating and retaining jobs, and providing a stable tax base. Ultimately, economic development is a revenue strategy for a community, generating additional tax dollars from new business investment.”

Genuine economic development is remarkably complex. An experienced economic development professional evaluates their geographic area (such as a city, county, or region) for key opportunities, future trends, and fundamental weaknesses. Questions like, how does this region compare against state or national measures? What are the region’s core strengths? Are those core strengths being maximized? What does the community want? What does the community need? What are the one or two really big things in the next one, three, or five years that can be accomplished which will materially change future outcomes and improve residents’ lives?

A great recent example of a game-changing win our City Council, City Manager, and Economic Development Department accomplished was securing, and then working hard to retain, College of the Desert’s $37M Road Runner Motors educational facility (RRM). This facility will be located within the Cathedral City’s Automotive Center, will strengthen the City’s automotive business cluster, and should begin construction by 2025. Beyond improving our City’s economic future, the access to previously out-of-reach educational opportunities and resulting upward economic mobility is incredible.

On a regional basis, the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership (CVEP) is one of California’s best-in-class economic development organizations and the Valley’s only economic development-specific organization. While City-specific economic professionals focus on improving economic conditions within City limits with some investments in regional economic development, CVEP’s only focus is improving economic and social conditions Valley-wide. For more on CVEP and the critical role CVEP plays in strengthening our fragile Valley economy, click here.

To stay on top of Economic Development activities and information, please bookmark www.ccedd.org. You can improve our streets and enhance revenue for City services by keeping as much of your daily shopping dollars within Cathedral City limits. A simple Google or Yelp search will identify businesses within Cathedral City which need your support.

Did you know helping our local businesses thrive by shopping local is the best way to attract new businesses? Attracting new investment is also accomplished by keeping our properties clean, weed, and debris-free. Property appearance is an important selling point when prospective investors are looking for the perfect location. Everyone is a part of Cathedral City’s long-term success, and your efforts are helping elevate Cathedral City to new levels.

The Economic Development Department wishes you and your family great health, happiness, and success in the new year. Thank you for making Cathedral City the great community it is.

Dr. Stone James

View posts by Dr. Stone James
Economic Development Director City of Cathedral City 68700 Av. Lalo Guerrero, Cathedral City, CA 92234 Direct: 760-770-0336 | Mobile 760-219-7227 Office Fax: 760-321-4509 www.cathedralCity.gov sjames@cathedralcity.gov
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