We celebrated Economic Development Week last week: it was a great chance for us to show off what economic development actually is, and what it does for our communities. Economic development professionals are hard at work at all levels of government – federal, state, county, city, and tribal – and within nonprofit and for-profit corporations, too.

As an active community member, I often give talks to educate young people about college and career. When I describe to young people what I do for a living, I usually manage to work in a joke that goes something like this: “When I was five, I thought I wanted to grow up to be a firefighter. But eventually, like most little girls, I started to dream of working in economic development!” Of course, I’m met with puzzled stares, eye-rolls, and a few chuckles. It’s up for debate whether that joke is funny; there’s a good chance I just think it is. But even among professional working adults, many people don’t know exactly what is meant by a career in economic development.

CVEP was formed to bring a cohesive direction and voice to the economic development needs of Greater Palm Springs, a geographically large and diverse region comprised of many distinct governmental entities. Our areas of focus are home-grown entrepreneurship, business attraction, and technology business incubation. These strengths are the perfect complements to the strengths of our local governmental economic development colleagues.

As we celebrated Economic Development Week, I asked a few colleagues to share what economic development means to their communities.

“At a local community level, pursuing the continual growth, retention, expansion, and access to economic opportunities is part of the fabric that defines healthy, thriving, and sustainable cities. It is the notion that understands that jobs, housing, education, healthcare, transportation, water, energy security all are vital to maintaining the local quality of life.”  – Todd Hooks, Economic Development Director, Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians

“For the City of Cathedral City’s Economic Development Department, economic development means: 1) Improving the quality of jobs and opportunities available within the City. 2) Supporting the overwhelming entrepreneurial spirit of our City as we attract and retain educated and creative professionals from a variety of fields, such as arts, technology and medical fields. 3) Improving the levels of education and preparing our residents and business for the opportunities (and threats) which are coming due to automation.” – Stone James, Economic Development Director, City of Cathedral City

“Palm Springs has an eclectic approach to economic development that is fluid and adaptable to the NOW.  The City’s economic development programs are a vital part of sustaining its quality of life which includes safe communities, quality infrastructure, arts & culture, recreation & leisure, and community services.  Partnerships with business and industry allows the City to leverage its resources and consistently improve the Palm Springs experience.  Economic development creates synergy for the City’s jobs, housing, technology, and sustainability initiatives, and supports the amazing lifestyle that the Palm Springs community enjoys.   That means we are always looking for inventive ways to look and think outside the typical municipal box.” – Cathy Van Horn, Economic Development Administrator, City of Palm Springs

“The Palm Desert Economic Development Department’s vision is to provide quality and service excellence to the business community. We work with both existing and new businesses to provide information, connection and technical assistance in support of their location and expansion needs.  We act as the City liaison for all businesses whether small mom-and-pop shops to large redevelopments; all with the Palm Desert mission in mind – to provide exemplary service and programs that benefit the entire community.” – Wayne Olson, Senior Development Analyst, City of Palm Desert 

Economic development is largely a behind-the-scenes job, but the results are the building blocks of our communities and cities.

At CVEP, we support the economic development missions of all of our partner organizations, and enjoy strong support from them in return. We join our friends and colleagues at IEDC in celebrating the forward-thinking economic development professionals of our region. Together, our unique mix of skills and resources are combining to make Greater Palm Springs the next big up-and-coming region for business starts, growth, and relocation.