Tangible economic development takes time and must be ongoing to be successful: Part two

As with any long term vision and strategy, economic development is a long term ongoing process that takes time, work, investment, and leadership.

In part one of this Michigan State University Extension series we briefly touched on the fact that economic development is a long term, ongoing process. To illustrate the impact and process, this part will walk through a fictional example of how a small park project, which some may not characterize as economic development, became the catalyst to great things to come.

For example a trail project or urban park project may not be considered by some as economic development, however, let’s think about what the quality of life improvement will invigorate downstream. This is a fictional example that highlights the multiplier effect of various projects and how they can lead to some long term, highly impactful environmental, cultural and economic improvements for the community and its citizen’s true economic development!

Once a blighted parcel is invested into and cleaned up and turned into a park area, community gatherings may draw in local residents, and potentially folks from outlying areas. Let’s suppose a local arts council hosts music events during the summer months, which grows in popularity to draw in hundreds, perhaps thousands to this are for these events alone. If this is the case, it is likely that some entrepreneurial minded individual will set up a concession cart or food truck to provide refreshments to attendees. What if this park is host to several festivals, a farmers market, or art & craft show? Though small scale, this development has generated opportunities for entrepreneurial venture that otherwise may not have existed certainly not at this location.

Now, let’s take this one step further, shall we. Now that this little parcel has become vibrant due to the park project, the homes around the area are likely to become more desirable, assuming they are not in disrepair. Safety is a paramount concern for folks when venturing to public spaces, so for purposes of this example, let’s assume the area is fairly safe and well kept. When the sense of place is enhanced, people will want to be closer to it. This has the potential, on the open market, to drive values of adjacent properties up due to increased demand.

We can go on and on, but the point is that economic development is a process. The fictional example I just described may take 10-20 years or more to come to fruition. So, it is important to know that sustainable and impactful economic development is truly an ongoing, long term process.

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