A Look Back on Economic Development in 2013

Posted by Caroline Joy on Dec 18, 2013 9:46:25 AM

Economic Development A Year in Review

In two weeks, 2013 will be just another year in the history books. We will be standing on the threshold of 2014, and imagining all the promise a new year brings.

But before we can look forward, we have to look back: what defined economic development in 2013?

To gain some retrospect, I started with a blog post I did in early 2013: A Newbie’s Take on the IEDC Leadership Conference. What did the industry think was going to matter in 2013? The usual buzzwords and acronyms were present (FDI, BRE, access to capital), but THE hot topic in Orlando in late January had to be:

Louise Story’s incentives series in the New York Times.

Her presentation by far was the most popular, drawing a huge crowd and lots of questions. But as the year went on, this story did not seem to grow legs, and the issue went away.

Next up: Workforce.

Screen shot 2013-12-18 at 9.44.00 AM

Coming off an election year, there was already much debate in the air over workforce. It seems like every market Atlas was working in this year had some type of workforce issue: shortage, fit, skill, attraction/retention etc.

Countless articles have been written on the subject in 2013 and we devoted an entire webinar to the question: whose job is it to create jobs? No doubt workforce will remain a hot topic in 2014 and the years to come.

What common thread rises to the top for both of these hot buttons?


We are seeing a greater emphasis on measured accountability in economic development organizations: boards, investors and stakeholders wanting to see a concrete correlation between the activities an EDO is engaging in, and the impact they are having on their community as a result.

Atlas's second white paper on High Performance Economic Development: Why Metrics Matter, drives home the fact that economic developers are in an increased period of accountability, despite the fact that budgets may be shrinking.

This is a trend we will see continue into 2014 and beyond. What are you going to do in the new year to ensure that you are making a difference in your community and have the results to prove it?


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