When my dad started out in site selection consulting some 50 years ago, it was a pretty undefined career path, to say the least. In fact, you could say the broader economic development and site selection industry was nascent as well, although some of the old timers will remember AEDC and CUED. While it is important to remember the past, this blog is not about looking backwards, but looking forward to the next generation of economic developers, and to offer an unapologetically biased view of why economic development and site selection continues to be an excellent career choice. Here are my top reasons.
- Because you will make a difference. In what other field can you help a struggling community thrive, or a mediocre community really hum?
- Because you will never be bored. I guarantee you that no two days will ever be alike. For better or worse, you’ll never face the exact same challenge twice. This means you will always be learning.
- Because you will be supported by your fellow economic developers. If you get stuck, need new ideas, or just a pep talk, you’ll find that economic developers, even from “competing” regions, are as collegial and helpful as they come.
- Because you’ll get to exercise every corner of your brain. You’ll switch seamlessly from analyzing financials for a deal to trying to “read” a site selector and her prospect, and then try to explain complicated incentives to elected officials. Sometimes all in the same afternoon.
- Because you will meet a lot of interesting people. Like that one developer who staged cows on his for-sale site to impress a dairy manufacturing company, never realizing until it was too late that one of the cows was, in fact, a bull.
- Because you can carry your skills with you wherever you may travel in this world. Whether you stay in your home town for decades, or want to travel to different regions, states, and countries, being an economic developer is a universal skill in need everywhere. Unlike my friends who are literally rocket scientists and limited to living in a handful of locations around the world, you can live virtually anywhere.
If you’re in the economic development industry, you likely have other reasons why you consider it a great career choice. I encourage you to add these to the comments section below to help demonstrate the “collegial” atmosphere I both know and love.
Ady Advantage is an international economic development marketing and research firm. If you’re interested in learning more about the industry, or if you’re interested in learning more about our suite of services, feel free to give us a call at 608.663.9218. I or a member of my team would be happy to speak with you. Another great learning tool I often recommend which helps demonstrate the complexity of the issues in economic development is our series of “toolbox” books. They provide unique, in-depth insights into a variety of situations being faced by the men and women of this important industry all across the county. For a copy of the book order form, click here.
This blog is dedicated to my nephew, Nick, and all the other 18-year-olds out there trying to figure out what to do when they grow up.