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Regional economic development is a term used to describe the combination of strategies and objectives that are used to enhance or improve the economic circumstances found within a specific geographical region. This process normally has several ongoing goals such as improving infrastructure in a way that attracts more business to the area, which in turn means more jobs for citizens and a better standard of living for everyone involved. It is not unusual for regional development efforts to be ongoing, constantly designing and implementing new projects that have the potential to bring more money and financial stability to the area. When successful, the regional economic development approach helps to reverse economic declines, stabilize the economy and ultimately allow the area to grow in population and wealth.
The task of regional economic development is often carried out by organizations that include a combination of interested business owners, politicians, and others who desire to improve the economic circumstances that prevail in the region. To this end, participants in these organizations will look closely at the critical infrastructure of the region, considering factors such as affordable housing, a viable system or roads that allow easy travel within the area, and even factors such as the presence of schools and sufficient business to sustain the human capital available in the area. After assessing the economic condition of the region and identifying its potential, a plan for developing some aspect of the region can be designed and ultimately implemented.
The actual process of regional economic development is ongoing. Along with finding ways to improve the infrastructure and encourage the development of new business and the influx of more people to support those businesses, a development committee or organization will constantly be looking for ways to improve the standard of living in the area and maintain the forward momentum of the economy. This includes finding ways to diversify the combination of industry and business found in the area, so that the region is not dependent on a single industry for jobs and other resources that make the improvements possible.
At its best, regional economic development supports consistent growth within a region that provides a stable economy and encourages residents to remain in the area rather than seek opportunities elsewhere. The efforts also encourage others to move into the area in order to enjoy the standard of living found in the area. With proper management, regional economic development can aid the community in responding to changes in the economy, taking advantage of those changes in order to continue growing, weathering the economic crisis with only a minimum of decline.
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