Secret from 028: Creating a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy

Michelle Geller, Economic Development Manager for the city of Escondido, CA, joined us on this month’s episode of Economic Development Secrets. She shares how implementing a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) has been very successful in her community and has even won her organization an award from the American Planning Association’s San Diego Chapter. Michelle gives advice on how other communities can implement this strategy.

I thought it was really important that we do a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy, also called a CEDS, which is the acronym for that document. It basically is a road map for economic development in your region, and it’s based on data. So, we hired a consultant. Also, you are required to have what’s called a CEDS committee, which is a committee made up of stakeholders that is majority private sector. That was a huge benefit to doing this process as well, because we engaged stakeholders from every industry in Escondido to give us input, who had the real boots on the ground experience of doing business in Escondido. What had been their experience up to that point, and where did they see the future of Escondido’s economy going?

Our first CEDS was completed back in 2012 and I continued to use it as a road map. It wasn’t just one of those reports that you do and then it sits on the shelf gathering dust. We just updated our CEDS in January of this year. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t look at it, and kind of check in and see how we’re doing. The main businesses that we identified in our CEDS of having a large presence here in Escondido are in the industries of agriculture, clean tech, healthcare, information and communications, and specialty foods and beverages. We’re seeing growth in every single area of these, through businesses either newly locating here or growing here. It’s great to see your plan actually happening in real time.

An official CEDS as approved by the Economic Development Administration also allows cities to apply for federal grants from the EDA. It doesn’t take that much more to get an official CEDS if you’re already hiring a consultant to do a strategy. I always would recommend that.

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