July 25, 2023
The relationship between economic development and workforce development is a complex and important one, something the RPC’s Workforce Development division learned more about during a professional development day in July. Facilitated by Workforce Division Director Dr. Justin Arnold and held in Iroquois County, the training featured guest speaker Angel Crawford, the Iroquois County Economic Development Association’s Executive Director.
Dr. Arnold started the day describing how economic development, as a modern social science and profession, is relatively new. One of the earliest attempts to train individuals in economic development was by the University of Oklahoma’s Industrial Development Institute (now known as the Economic Development Institute, or EDI). The first cohort launched in 1962. Today the EDI teaches to the International Economic Development Council’s Certified Economic Developer curriculum standards and recently celebrated their 60th anniversary.
Workforce Development staff learned that to be successful, economic developers must have a comprehensive knowledge of finance, business administration, geography, economics, and other related fields. Certified Economic Developers are tested on their knowledge of ethics, business credit analysis, real estate and land use, business retention and expansion, entrepreneurship and small businesses, workforce development, neighborhood and community development, and leadership strategy.
“Workforce development is most successful when places have good economic development strategies,” explains Dr. Arnold. “Without businesses, there are no jobs to train people for. Without jobs, people move away from places. As economic developers work with elected officials and other stakeholders to respond to site selection requests, engage in placemaking activities, and help retain and expand businesses, they are nurturing job growth, career development, and household security, which can all be supported by workforce developers.”