Chris Lloyd Writes Feature Column on Winning the War Against Economic Development for Michigan Economic Developers Association

September 4, 2019

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Increasingly, economic development has become politicized, with questions around why investments in economic development marketing and incentives are needed. Budgets have been reduced in some areas, and communities such as Austin have announced moratoriums on future incentives in the face of low unemployment, increased traffic and more expensive housing.

In a recent column for the Michigan Economic Developers Association, McGuireWoods Consulting senior vice president and director of infrastructure and economic development, Chris Lloyd, detailed the importance of winning the war against economic development.

“Even in good times, there is a need for economic development, but especially when one looks behind the ‘headline data’ about low unemployment to realize the importance of making these strategic investments,” Lloyd noted. “In this economic boom cycle, these data hide some very disturbing facts that show our job as economic developers is as important as ever.”

One factor of low unemployment is a reduction in the number of people in the labor force. In Michigan, there are tens of thousands of people who have stopped looking for work.

“Many states, Michigan included, while seeing new jobs created, are finding that those new jobs pay a lot less than the jobs lost during the last recession,” Lloyd said. “Unemployment statistics don’t distinguish between high paying jobs and lower-paying jobs, but that difference shows up in consumer spending, government revenues, and other economic impacts.”

Economic development works to correct these challenges, raising the standards of living and improving quality of life.

“It’s about bringing people into the workforce so they can fully participate as citizens in our society,” he said. “The next time you hear people seeking to roll back economic development, remember these facts and how the job of economic development is never done.”