There is a misconception among the public just exactly what the role of a local economic development agency is and/or does.

There is a misconception among the public just exactly what the role of a local economic development agency is and/or does. If you polled 10 people on the street, I guarantee that you would get at least 10 different opinions of what they see as economic development and the role that an ED organization should play within a community. Even within the economic development profession the definition can vary but often it is more so defined by the needs of the business community and the role they need their ED agency to play.

I’ll admit, the role of the Independence Council for Economic Development varies widely and no two days are ever the same. We establish an annual business plan which outlines our objectives for the year and then we work daily on how we reach those goals. How we measure success is very difficult and there is no universal method within our profession. A very outdated method of performance measurement for ED organizations is the number of jobs created during a given year. The reason this is outdated is because ED groups don’t create jobs, our local businesses do.

As much as we would like to take credit for those, we only serve as a support mechanism to facilitate job creation by connecting businesses with resources or help them overcome hurdles that potentially restrict job creation and capital investment. While we still count new jobs (as well as jobs lost), we do that as a measure of economic health within the community.

Ultimately, a good economic development organization works to create a conducive and supportive environment for business that nurtures business growth. We work to be proactive in supporting our local business community by helping them analyze their potential weaknesses, identify opportunities to grow their business, support collaboration, and make sure that they have access to information and tools that will foster their growth. Essentially, their success is our success and the great thing is that almost all of our services and programs are provided at no charge to Independence businesses. The only time we charge is to cover our expenses such as food or speakers required for a program.

We are very excited for what 2010 will bring for our community. We’ve already seen some growth of several local businesses during the first month of the year. Our recently formed Industrial Council is actively meeting and networking, and we are excited to be launching a new “Lunch and Learn” education series. This three-part program will provide training for businesses on “Using Social Media,” “E-Mail Marketing,” and “Guerrilla Marketing.” We also plan to continue our monthly webinar programs on topics of interest to local businesses so our small businesses can take advantage of the training and educational programs without the need to leave their place of business.

If you don’t think the Independence Council for Economic Development can help your business, you probably haven’t asked us to try.