scenic picture from Washington state
SubjectsEconomic Development › Planning for Economic Development
Updated 05/2014

Planning for Economic Development

Contents

Introduction

When planning for economic development, the goal is to create and maintain a strong, vibrant local economy. Local government economic development planning is part of a region's overall economic development strategy and involves intergovernmental coordination. The economic development plan provides a comprehensive overview of the economy, sets policy direction for economic growth, and identifies strategies, programs, and projects to improve the economy. This page includes general background information on economic development planning and sample economic development plans.

General Information on Economic Development Planning

The following publications and guides provide useful background on the economic development planning process.

  • Economic Development: Tools of the Trade, American Planning Association - Strategies and methods for economic development planning; summarizes information from APA’s “An Economic Development Toolbox,” 2008
  • An Economic Development Toolbox: Strategies and Methods, Terry Moore, Stuart Merck, and James Ebenhoh, Planning Advisory Service Report No. 541, American Planning Association, 2006 (Available through MRSC Library Loan) - Practical guide for local governments planning for economic development
  • A Guide to Preparing the Economic Development Element of a Comprehensive Plan, Wisconsin Economic Development Institute, Inc., 08/2003 - Wisconsin has a “Smart Growth Law,” similar to Washington's Growth Management Act; this is one of few general guides on this topic; older but still useful 
  • Economic Development: Strategies for State and Local Practice, by Steven G. Koven and Thomas S. Lyons, ICMA, 2003 (Available through MRSC Library Loan) - Useful general guide to economic development concepts and tools
  • Learning to Lead: A Primer on Economic Development Strategies, Washington State Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development (now Department of Commerce), 1999 - General overview of the major issues related to economic development; older but still useful

Economic Development Plans and Elements

The Washington Growth Management Act (GMA) emphasizes county-wide coordination of economic development planning, and economic development is one of the elements of a growth management comprehensive plan (see RCW 36.70A.070 (7)). The requirement for an economic development element was conditioned on the availability of state funds, which have not been provided to date. Many jurisdictions have, however, prepared an economic element of their comprehensive plan. Local governments have prepared other types of economic development plans, including strategic action plans and plans targeted at downtown areas. The following are selected examples of these plans.

GMA Economic Development Plans

Strategic Action and Other Economic Development Plans

Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy

A comprehensive economic development strategy (CEDS) is a strategic planning document and planning process that helps guide the economic growth and development of communities and regions. The CEDS is required by the federal Economic Development Administration (EDA) in areas designated as economic development districts and for certain EDA grant funds, including grants for public works and economic development. The preparation of an economic development plan can also improve access to other federal, state, and private aid programs.

Need more information?

Feel free to Ask MRSC. Washington cities, counties, and our contract partners can call or email MRSC for more information and advice - free of charge.