Secret from 021: Preparing for Economic Development’s Future

Carlton Schwab, President/CEO of the Texas Economic Development Council, joined us on this month’s episode of Economic Development Secrets, and shared what he believes is the future of economic development and how professionals need to grow and adapt with the change.

Our professionals need to get involved in economic development in its totality even more so than ever before because you simply can’t measure success anymore in jobs. Jobs created has always been kind of a way to measure economic development success. With automation of so many activities now, it’s just no longer a completely effective way of analyzing success. What I’d like to see our professionals get into, and it’s already occurring, is to get themselves and their boards into looking at economic development in a more holistic way.

How do local education programs and workforce development programs affect a community’s ability to compete or perhaps not compete? What about the issue of place? What does your community look like? Is it a place that people want to live? Is it a place they want to raise a family? All of the sort of softer issues, or it used to be considered softer issues, that are related to long term success. We need to educate our board members and our elected officials that this is a much more long term kind of enterprise as opposed to the old let’s shoot some game and hang the skins on the wall. That era is over, and it’s been over, but I think we’re just now trying to understand that or coming to terms with that.

Then the one other thing that I think is very interesting, and it will no doubt help change our business for the better, is the number of women entering economic development. I see that as a very positive development in terms of our profession. Our baby boomers are retiring at a rapid clip. If you were to sit in on one of our basic courses for example, about 55% to 60% of the attendees in our basic economic development course are women. They have a different take on how economic development works and how it should work, and so do the millennials. I see really positive things coming about in our business, and the change is actually occurring much more rapidly than any of us anticipated.

Use the player below to listen to the full episode of the podcast: