Economic Development


The term economic development generally refers to work aimed at increasing or diversifying the range of income and wealth generating opportunities in a given place. The focus can be directly on jobs, attracting new businesses or workforce development. Or, often, groups make a “business case” for improving education, housing, recreation and access to health care by noting the relationship of those opportunities to jobs, workforce development and the ability of a community to attract new businesses. It is interesting to note that the way groups tend to make this kind of “business case” to promote efforts to improve the lives of marginalized individuals is one of the times we most clearly describe structural racism. John Powell, the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society and others have flipped this insight to create “opportunity maps” showing the overlap of demographics, access to health, employment, public transit and many other factors in a given place, as one way of helping people working on economic development to do so from a lens that promotes explicit attention to race/ethnicity and entry points (opportunities) for development, and understanding the likely systemic and population impact these factors have. 

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