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Similarities Between Business Development & Economic Development

Updated: Jun 23, 2023

During a recent conversation with a target company, I drew on my economic development work history to demonstrate my business development expertise. The two disciplines are so closely aligned in their objectives to grow business. In fact, without a business development strategy, clear goals about target customers (new and existing companies in a community), and how to show value and offer tactics leading to long-term success, most economic development efforts would fall flat. This blog explores economic and business development similarities, highlighting how they work together to foster growth and create opportunities.

Shared Objectives

Economic and business development both focus on fostering growth and enhancing prosperity, albeit at different levels. Economic development targets the overall well-being of a region or nation by improving various socio-economic factors like employment rates, income levels, infrastructure, and quality of life. These efforts consider multiple companies’ needs and seek to create a favorable business climate. On the other hand, business development concentrates on individual enterprises' growth and expansion, increasing market share, revenue, and profitability one company at a time. Differences aside, both disciplines ultimately seek to make a positive impact and contribute to the overall progress of a community.

Collaboration + Partnership

Collaboration and partnership are critical components of both economic development and business development. Effective economic development strategies require close cooperation among stakeholders, including government entities, private organizations, educational institutions, and community representatives. Similarly, successful business development relies on establishing strategic alliances, leveraging resources through important partnerships, knowing where challenges and opportunities lie within an industry, and gaining market access. For both disciplines, collaboration is the key to enhancing the collective capacity to generate economic opportunities and maximize growth potential.

Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Innovation and entrepreneurship play vital roles in economic development and business development. Many economic development initiatives are designed to create an environment that encourages innovation, supports entrepreneurship, and attracts investment. Economic development aims to cultivate a thriving ecosystem for businesses to flourish by fostering a culture of creativity and providing resources and incentives. Business development, meanwhile, focuses on identifying and seizing entrepreneurial opportunities, fostering innovation within organizations, and driving the growth of individual enterprises. The economic developer knows what companies need for success. Thorough business development plans will be bolstered by using public sector resources and tools as catalysts for economic progress and competitiveness.

Market Analysis + Strategic Planning

Both disciplines rely on data-driven insights to make informed decisions and create pathways for sustainable growth. Business development professionals conduct market research and analysis to identify target markets, assess competition, and design effective strategies to penetrate and expand market share. Similarly, economic development professionals perform in-depth market analysis to identify trends, opportunities, and potential regional growth sectors. This information aids in developing strategic plans and policies to attract investment, support industries, and stimulate economic activity. Without in-depth data, both disciplines lack enough information to forge a strategic path forward.

Workforce Development

Workforce development is a shared focus in economic development and business development. A wide variety of economic development initiatives and incentives are designed to enhance the skills and capabilities of the workforce through education, vocational training, and talent development programs. By investing in workforce training and skills development, regions can attract new businesses, retain existing ones, and create a skilled labor pool that drives economic growth. Business development efforts prioritize talent acquisition, training, and professional development within organizations to fuel their expansion and competitiveness. Investing in recruiting the brightest and best minds to execute the critical tasks associated with finding new growth opportunities creates a more successful strategy than simply hoping for the best with the talent you’ve got, even if it’s not prepared for the next level of corporate investment. Both economic and business development recognize that nurturing human capital is essential for sustained growth and prosperity.


Placing the design of a comprehensive growth strategy in the hands of a business development professional with experience in designing economic development programs for company growth and successfully translating those programs into business development resources for individual companies to use provides a leg-up on the competition. Consider creating a strategy that incorporates both disciplines to get ahead with success.

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