Michigan Economic Developers Association

Your Partner in Growing Your Community

Why Economic Development

Economic developers are often tasked with answering the question of exactly what it is that they do. The answer is not always simple because they use a variety of methods to meet their goals. This page provides a simple explanation to the purpose of this great profession.

buildingsWhat is Economic Development?

Economic development is attracting and growing businesses, creating and retaining jobs, and making our communities a better place to live.

Why is Economic Development Important?

Attracting and growing businesses strengthens our economy providing locally-produced goods and services. Strong businesses pay taxes that go for vital services such as schools, roads, fire, and police. Businesses also provide good jobs that put money in people’s pockets and allow for a higher quality of life.

What is the impact of economic development?

Economic development has a lasting impact on a community. Job providers purchase goods and services they need to operate, and their workers purchase goods and services they need to live. Money changes hands many times as it flows through the local economy and creates overall prosperity enjoyed by all citizens.

What are other benefits of economic development?

  • Economic development has a major impact on the places where we live, work and play. Putting vacant or abandoned buildings and land back into productive use is a major function of economic development. This helps keep businesses located in urban areas where sewer, water, and other services are already present.
  • Economic development retains and attracts talented people. Communities that provide quality jobs and great places to live and work are a magnet for folks of all ages. As a result, these places have a strong future.
  • Economic development also fosters the entrepreneurial spirit that resides in our creative and ambitious citizens. By providing access to ideas, investment and expert advice new companies can be created to help assure Michigan’s economy stays innovative and diverse.

What is an Economic Developer?

What is an Economic DeveloperEconomic developers are professionals within a community that use various tools to stimulate economic growth while maximizing the best interests of the entire community and finding mutually beneficial solutions for all parties concerned.

How do Economic Developers attract and grow businesses to strengthen our economies?

Economic developers work jointly with businesses, developers and government to promote economic growth. They are well versed in business assistance, marketing and knowledgeable regarding federal, state and local programs.

How does an Economic Developer make a difference in my Community?

Businesses are always faced with decisions of where and how to invest their limited funds to be more successful. These funds are often borrowed from banks and investors who expect a return on their investment. Communities benefit from economic development and are quite often willing to help lower a business’s initial investment costs or taxes. Economic developers understand how these private investment decisions are made and work to make sure the decision is good for both the business and the community.

What tools do Economic Developers use to create Economic Development?

There are many factors that come into play when private investment decisions are made. Economic developers use tools such as incentives to reduce business costs which results in more investment in the community and creates benefits for both the private and public sectors.  

How do Economic Developers ensure the use of incentives is in the public’s best interest and businesses are held accountable for the promises they make?

The public sector makes the decision to approve the type and use of incentives. These decisions are based upon the desire to benefit the public. Economic development incentives are a valuable tool that can provide the state and local communities with a positive return on their investment. Economic developers are experts in the use of incentives and forging agreements to between businesses and government to ensure the results are mutually beneficial to all.  

How can I find one to help me and/or my community?

The staff of the Michigan Economic Developers Association (MEDA) is happy to help connect you with an economic developer to help with your economic growth project. Also see the Michigan Economic Development Directory, full of MEDA members and partners that are ready to help you succeed in Michigan!

Additional Resources

Read the What is Economic Development, Exactly? blog by Karl Dorshimer, CEcD, EDFP, Director, Economic Development, Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP)

View the Promoting Economic Development and Economic Developers in Michigan PowerPoint, created by MEDA's Advocacy Committee.

Any Questions?

Further inquiries on the subject can be made to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by calling our main line: 517-241-0011.

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Contact Us

Michigan Economic
Developers Association
P.O. Box 15096
Lansing, MI 48901-5096
PH: 517-241-0011
meda@medaweb.org