The Guilford County Economic Development Strategy

I largely wrote this Strategic Plan for Guilford County, published in 2005, to highlight new ways of thinking about economic development. Though some of the wording is dated, many of the concepts presented here are still a bit foreign to older ED practitioners and elected officials.

A New Model for Economic Development:

The Guilford County Economic Development Strategy

In June 2003 the Board of Commissioners directed staff to update the county’s comprehensive plan. That effort generated Framework for the Future: Guilford 2020 – A Fiscal Impact Analysis and Economic Development Strategy. A primary objective of the effort was to assess the county’s present economic situation and provide strategies to enhance the county’s competitive positioning in the future.

Guilford County Community and Economic Development presents this report to be incorporated into the Framework for the Future document and recommends strategies to enhance Guilford County’s economic development efforts. These strategies are a result of expertise and research by Community and Economic Development staff. This report presents a new economic development philosophy that is centered on workforce development, job creation, higher wage rates and prosperity.

Traditionally, economic development efforts were measured simply by the number of jobs created. In today’s economic development world, job creation is merely one factor to consider. Living wage rates, rising wage rates, environmentally sound local practices, rising educational attainment, basic infrastructure needs, including wireless connectivity —all have become critical components of a successful local economic development landscape. The quality of place – that subjective term for how others perceive a location – has become a more critical factor than ever. The role that county government plays can impact the development and ultimate outcome of that economic development portrait. After taking into account all of the different goals that are important to Guilford County, the primary goal of all economic development efforts can be boiled down to one basic concept:

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