Chris Lloyd Details Key Role of Economic Developers in Navigating COVID-19 Crisis

June 23, 2020

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In a June 2020 article for Area Development, McGuireWoods Consulting senior vice president and director of infrastructure and economic development, Chris Lloyd, commented on the importance of maintaining a strong commitment to economic development as businesses rethink supply chains and navigate new guidelines and rules amid the COVID-19 crisis.

Even as the economy crashed and businesses shuttered, site selection efforts continued. While the pain of the crisis is real, most agree that it is short term, and when we emerge on the other side, new jobs and new investments will occur, Lloyd noted.

Without open businesses, society is essentially shut down. Government spending can help in the short term, but restarting and growing the economy is the only way to get back to normal.

“And it is the economic development community that will be central to this effort,” Lloyd said. “Even during the crisis, it has been our economic development professionals who stepped up to help closed businesses navigate the new guidelines and rules. They helped identify funding sources to keep businesses afloat and to navigate new tax and permitting processes. They have also worked closely with stakeholders in the healthcare sector on appropriate protocols to get businesses open again.”

This front-and-center role is where economic developers should remain, Lloyd argued, even after the crisis.

“They need to ensure that they don’t back away from important investments in developing new sites, enhancing talent pipelines, and supporting entrepreneurs. And, finally, they cannot shun the use of incentives to help solidify partnerships with new and expanding businesses,” he said.