Guest Post: Local Economic Development Organizations – Catalysts for Economic Growth

Justin Horvath, is the President/CEO of the Shiawassee Economic Development Partnership President/CEO.

At a time when jobs and the economy are top of mind for Michigan residents, it is important to note the critical role that Local Economic Development Organizations (LEDOs) play in tackling these challenges in the communities they represent. While they themselves are not the actual job creators, LEDOs serve as a catalyst in driving economic growth by conducting activities to support the businesses that do.

These efforts typically include retention and expansion support (helping existing companies keep and grow jobs and make capital investments), attraction (marketing the community and helping new operations expand into or relocate to the area), and entrepreneurial development (aiding local residents who want to start or grow their own small business). LEDOs utilize a number of tools to make this happen, including site location, incentives, access to capital, workforce hiring & training, and many others.

Apart from these program specifics, LEDOs build close relationships with their clients, providing customized, one-on-one assistance that not only meets their needs but also generates a positive community perception by the company. LEDOs strive to create regional, state, national and international partnerships to facilitate additional economic resources for the area. They also have a keen understanding of what makes the overall local economy tick, and undertake initiatives to build on existing business assets or mitigate weaknesses. LEDOs also take measure of their activities and effectively communicate them to key stakeholders, sometimes serving as a de facto cheerleader in promoting the good economic happenings in the community.

Our organization, the Shiawassee Economic Development Partnership (the LEDO serving Shiawassee County, MI), has been charged with this role since 2002. We are proud to report that as a result of the activities undertaken above, we have worked directly on 70 announced projects, with over 1,800 new jobs, and $125,000,000 in capital investment.  If you are interested in learning more about how your community is working to improve the local economy, I encourage you to contact your LEDO.

— Justin Horvath, CEcD, Shiawassee Economic Development Partnership President/CEO