May 10, 2016 Why There’s an Economic Development Week
I am thrilled to be sharing this exciting year and celebration with economic developers around the nation, especially with organizations like the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership. As we celebrate Economic Development Week, it is important to look back at how far we have come as an industry.
The national economy went through a very difficult time eight years ago. In 2008, we experienced a deep recession that, at times, seemed impossible to climb out of. Over the years, we have slowly recovered, but we have been simultaneously losing traditional employment to overseas companies. This has led to an “uberization” of the economy, forcing people to work multiple part-time jobs to pay their bills. Economic development leaders have struggled to come up with an effective strategy to mitigate these problems.
Fortunately, the unemployment rate has stayed at around 5 percent nationally. However, there are still people on the sidelines that haven’t been able to get back into the workforce. That is where organizations like the Partnership come in. Economic developers around the nation work tirelessly to create jobs and elevate the economies of the communities they serve, and I am happy to celebrate that fact through Economic Development Week this year.
The year 2016 allows IEDC to celebrate 90 years of history making in the economic development industry. The merger of AEDC and CUED took place during the week of May 8-14, 2001, which is how we chose the dates for our first-ever Economic Development Week.
The primary purpose of Economic Development Week is to celebrate both the achievements of economic developers and the industry’s impact on cities, towns, and the world at large. Economic Development Week has consisted of online activities designed to highlight the importance of economic development and recognize the efforts of economic development professionals in all corners of the world. We have encouraged communities to get involved and take part in the celebration by creating a celebration guide that includes sample city, county and state resolutions, a sample press release, and sample ads encouraging communities to bring greater awareness to the role of the economic developer and the profession.
The industry of economic development is broad and impacts nearly everyone, so IEDC has strived over the years to host a wide range of events that will appeal, and be relevant, to as many of our members as possible. Every community is dealing with different issues, and we aim to bring like-minded economic development professionals from all over the world together, allowing them to share their ideas and problem-solve in a way that otherwise would not be possible.
As Judie Scalise (AEDC chair, 1993-94) has said, “Community leaders recognize that in order to be successful you need to leverage your assets and improve the foundations that support economic development. The skill set that economic development practitioners need to do their jobs has expanded.” Marty Vanags has exemplified this statement through his work over the past year at the Partnership.
I have known Marty throughout his positions in Illinois, Indiana, and New York and through our time on the IEDC board and Public Policy Advisory Committee. It’s safe to say that we have known each other for a very long time. He is one of the most thoughtful and capable economic development leaders in the country, and New York State is very lucky to have him.
Over the past 12 months, Marty has brought immense progress and defining leadership to the organization. The release of The Saratoga Strategy, a two-year economic development plan for Saratoga County and the launch of Business First Saratoga, a business retention and expansion initiative focused on helping grow Saratoga County businesses, are among the many highlights.
Marty has been a member of IEDC since 2004. From day one, he has shown a commitment to the economic development profession and the policies and practices we aim to influence. We appreciate his service on our board and hope his second two-year term is one of many more to come.
I look forward to celebrating the hard work that is achieved within the field of economic development with you all. Happy Economic Development Week!