An economic development officer generally serves as a conduit to increase the economic vitality of a community or region. He or she may work closely with land-use planning officials, private developers and various constituencies to bring economic investment to an area or site. Those who work in this area of expertise may compile or analyze statistics, make recommendations to political bodies, or solicit input from business leaders. Sometimes, an economic development officer will work with local or regional officials to set up enterprise zones or enact taxing districts. Overseeing and shepherding public investment in infrastructure that may later support increased business activities is something also done by those in this profession.
Although there are numerous approaches to stimulating economic vitality, in general the end goal in such development is to increase opportunity for residents within a designated area. An economic development officer sometimes serves as an economic analyst, calculating and measuring the amount and type of funding needed to bring a project to fruition. Someone in this capacity may also be charged with devising and shepherding public or private planning to ensure job creation occurs. Typically, a government agency would hire an economic development officer to work in an area where a dearth of available jobs is depressing the economy. He or she may also act as a liaison to help fund an economic development project.
Often, an economic development officer is a catalyst who brings together various players in the economic development process. He or she is generally expected to ensure public investment provides the desired stimulus, while also guarding public funds from misuse. Typically acting as an advisor to some or all of the parties in a regional development process, he or she will likely tap a significant collection of data to aid in stimulating community investment. Someone in this position may also serve as a lobbyist, advocating for investment in a particular project and drumming up community support.
Economic development usually entails bringing private or public investment into an area, or a combination of both. The economic development officer may advocate for private investors, or help them to access incentives, such as tax credits. He or she may also act as a link between those who want to invest in business development and communities who want developers.
Sometimes that investment is mainly derived from private enterprise. In that case, the economic development officer may work to dovetail and coordinate the various investments going into the project. He or she may specifically be tasked with assuring public funds have proper oversight, and are not used solely to provide a particular business a larger profit.