Finkle: Economic developers help create jobs

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, May 10, 2017

I am thrilled to be sharing this exciting occasion and celebration with economic developers around the nation, especially with organizations like the St. John the Baptist Parish Economic Development Department.

As we celebrate this second annual Economic Development Week, it is important to look back at how far we have come as an industry.

Economic Development encompasses many aspects of people’s lives within their communities; growth, prosperity and the hope for a better future for themselves, their families, their businesses and their communities.

All of this is made possible by striving to achieve the most powerful force in our economy; good jobs. The national economy went through a very difficult time nine years ago, as 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 Parish Economic Development Department 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 recently released Fiscal Year 2018 budget proposal shows many federal economic development programs, such as the Economic Development Administration and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, face extreme cuts or outright elimination.

This year’s Economic Development Week celebration will also have a heavy focus on spreading the importance of these programs and economic development on the whole.

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.

Throughout 2017, St. John the Baptist Parish Economic Development Department and its Director, Jerry W. Jones Jr,. have brought immense focus on creating and strengthening regional economic development strategies and partnerships, and increasing economic opportunity for all.

The successes of the local Economic Development Department, Parish President Natalie Robottom and Parish Council, Port of South Louisiana and GNO Inc. are among the many highlights. Jerry has shown a commitment to the economic development profession and the policies and practices we aim to influence. IEDC appreciates his service to the profession.

I look forward to celebrating the hard work that is achieved within the field of economic development with you all. Happy Economic Development Week!

Jeff Finkle is president and CEO of International Economic Development Council. Log onto or call 202-223-7800 for more information.