What even is Economic Development, anyway?

A Sweet Analogy with Ice Cream and Legos

The short answer to what economic development is: Making the place you live awesome!

Economic Development Winnipeg created a simplified explanation of economic development using ice cream. We couldn't have explained it any better.

a brief history on economic development

historic building image

"The developer's role is to influence the process for the benefit of the community."

-international economic development council

In centuries past, economic development was synonymous with industrialization (or Westernization, modernization, etc.) The period of the industrial revolution may come to mind, in which rapid industrial development led to an economic surge, making our modern world of technology, architecture, industry, and economics possible.

But we don't see economic development as a named concept until the 1950s. In a speech in 1949, Harry Truman said:

For the first time in history, humanity possesses the knowledge and the skill to relieve the suffering from these people... I believe that we should make available to peace-loving peoples the benefits of our store of technical knowledge in order to help them realize their aspirations for a better life.”

What we find then is that economic development is the "process of creating wealth through the mobilization of human, financial, capital, physical and natural resources to generate marketable goods and services" (IEDC). All of this is done with the intent of shaping a community for the better.

The evolution of economic development

Business Development

Helping entrepreneurs, supporting existing businesses, and attracting new businesses


Partnering with education and training institutions to ensure our workforce is prepared


Supporting the creation of public amenities, which help enhance quality of life in the region

Our primary goal is to encourage business attraction, business retention & expansion, workforce development, and entrepreneurship throughout Christian County by aligning resources and processes to make things easier on everyone. We are the advocates for the deal!

But the process of economic development has changed over the years. In its early days, economic development was about recruiting businesses to your area and expecting a surge of workers and revenue in the community to eventually contribute to placemaking efforts. But that is not so anymore; rather, the process has become reversed.

Economic development then

recruit business, attract people, enhance quality of life

Economic development now

quality of place, attract new business, recruit and retain talent

As economic developers, we now tend to focus on placemaking first. Prospective businesses looking at relocation or expansion are typically most concerned with quality of place, and so when we ensure that our residents are happy with the place they live, including such factors as parks, activities, public safety, and beautification, new businesses will be more likely to consider setting up shop in our region.


But placemaking isn't the only focus of an economic development organization. In fact, your local EDO is heavily involved in every sphere of your community.

Where does economic development fit into your community?

Diagram explaining the overlapping entities, between government, schools, businesses, and your local economic development

Economic Development is at the heart of every sphere in your community!

  • Partnering with city and county governments
  • Promoting education and workforce development
  • Recruiting and retaining businesses

An economic development organization's involvement with these entities in your community stems from the proactive, ongoing goals every EDO is working towards. These goals are:


  • Reduce unemployment, achieve economic stability, and increase the standard of living for all residents in our region
  • Build a highly skilled workforce
  • Focus on retaining and expanding existing local businesses
  • Recruit businesses that are suited to our community
  • Identify economic needs in our community and meet those needs
  • Maintain and strengthen our position as a travel/tourist destination
  • Strengthen housing, transportation, communication, and infrastructure
  • Supply vacant, development-ready land for commercial or industrial use
  • Encourage development that is environmentally sensitive

The Role of RFIs in Economic Development

Curious about RFI in economic development? RFI stands for Request for Information, a vital tool used in economic development initiatives. It's a formal process through which organizations seek detailed information about a particular project or opportunity. This information aids in decision-making, strategic planning, and fostering partnerships.

Show Me Christian County is grateful for our local partners' support in submitting RFIs. Working closely with state and local leads ensures a streamlined response process. Their expertise and resources are vital in presenting compelling opportunities for businesses that are considering locating to Christian County. Together, we enhance our region's competitiveness and attract meaningful economic development.

Economic Development vs business development vs economic growth

Understanding economic development helps communities grow stronger by creating better opportunities for everyone, while business development fuels individual companies' growth within this framework, contributing to overall economic growth of a country.

Economic Development

  • Makes life better for people by improving schools, hospitals, and creating fair job opportunities.
  • Measured by looking at people's health, job availability, and income.

Business Development

  • Helps companies grow by making better products and finding new customers.
  • Measured by increased sales, customer growth, and profit.

Economic Growth

  • Economic growth involves making more stuff and having more money over time, driven by innovation, population growth, and investment.
  • It's measured by increases in production and overall wealth.

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Committed To Christian County

At SMCC, we are much more than a resource for businesses; rather, we are a partnership, dedicated to the continued and lasting development of our beautiful, innovative, and expanding county.

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