Economic development is the lifeblood of any city or town. With careful planning and with an eye toward the future, economic developers and city planners establish a strategy for sustained growth.  This is true whether discussing exciting, new and innovative projects that are being considered for the first time or reinvesting in the community with upgraded infrastructure and rezoning projects, each of which vitalizes our local economy.

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And of utmost importance is the analysis of the required resources to develop any project. There is indeed a balance between preservation of precious resources and a city’s ability to invest in its future. A balance between meeting the demands of the public service needs of a community, while creating a quality of life that includes among other things, excellent educational opportunities and high-paying job creation.

Economic development agencies are tasked with supporting existing businesses, encouraging entrepreneurship, recruiting new businesses, and coordinating the economic development activities of their local governments.

Christian Price, AZED Pro, is CEO of Maricopa Economic Development Alliance (MEDA).

According to McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm, rural communities in particular require three interconnected elements to thrive: sectors, workforce, and community and connectivity. Rural economic development initiatives typically tie into one or more of these key elements.

• Sectors. Sectors refer to stable or growing industries that bring wealth into communities, create employment opportunities, and carry strong multiplier effects that support the overall economy. Thriving rural communities play to their strengths in such categories as agriculture, manufacturing, energy, tourism, and postsecondary education, for example.

• Workforce.  A healthy, skilled and educated workforce is the most important factor in attracting and retaining employers. In addition, workers spread wealth and create additional jobs by buying goods and services within their communities.

• Community and connectivity. Community and connectivity includes services and amenities critical to quality of life, such as transportation infrastructure and access to broadband, healthcare, childcare, and arts and culture. Because these assets support the workforce, they are essential to developing thriving sectors.

One successful way to attract business is through a well-established private-public partnership. Private-public partnerships are sought-after collaborations, whereby a government agency and a private sector company or organization work together to attract, finance, build and eventually operate large-scale projects. These partnerships work well when private sector technology and innovation combine with public sector incentives to complete work on time and within budget.

A distinct advantage of these partnerships is that the management skills and financial acumen of private businesses often create a better value for taxpayers’ money by increasing the quality and efficiency of public services.

Each market or land site within a city, county or state has a long list of challenges to overcome. Long before development can ever be considered, and the way a developer or business perceives a given market, a project has to fit into their “proprietary formula for success” that is specific to their industry, market conditions, economic and consumer trends, political certainty, financial opportunity, availability to capital, and so on.

Many business ventures look favorably upon these private-public partnerships and often seek out opportunities to consider locations with these established collaborations already in place.

Site challenges change with infrastructure improvements and other growth-related issues.  Population and rooftops matter immensely to these folks. And the perception of what other businesses have done recently or the growth or successes of other businesses in the area may all come into play when decisions are being made.

Projects don’t just happen overnight.  Plenty of thought, analysis and difficult conversations take place before a contract is signed and a shovel goes in the ground. When a business locates to a new area and it is successful, it creates development momentum.  These successes create a ripple effect that the development community takes note of. These further drive interest in a city.

And the strategy, planning and thoughtfulness start all over again.


Author: Christian Price, AZED Pro, is CEO of Maricopa Economic Development Alliance (MEDA). Established in 2009, MEDA is the City of Maricopa’s private-public partnership for economic development. For more information: