What IS Economic Development?

August 14, 2023 | Written by: Morgan

Google tells us that Economic Development is: “Programs, policies, or activities that seek to improve the economic well-being and quality of life for a community.”  While this is a good generic definition, each community has its own opportunities, challenges and priorities that shape what economic development means to them.  The Sanford Area Growth Alliance (SAGA) is Sanford, Lee County and Broadway’s uniquely tailored answer to the question.

At its core, economic development centers around fostering long-term growth in a way that benefits all members of society. This includes reducing poverty and unemployment, while promoting innovation, entrepreneurship, and sustainable growth practices. Governments, economic development agencies, and private businesses play crucial roles in driving economic development through policies, investments, and collaborations, and all these key stakeholders play a role in SAGA’s economic development efforts.

SAGA’s creative and highly effective economic development strategy enhances the well-being and quality of life within our community through increased capital investment, new job creation and small business assistance, leveraging the power of hundreds of Chamber member businesses and entrepreneurs to create enhanced amenities and increase living standards for all residents. These efforts not only expand economic output but also yield improvements in infrastructure, education, healthcare, wealth creation and other key indicators of prosperity.

Key drivers of economic development include investments in physical and human capital. Physical capital involves infrastructure development such as transportation networks, utility systems, and communication facilities, all of which facilitate the movement of goods, services, people and information. Human capital refers to the education, skills, and health of a community’s workforce, which contribute to increased productivity and innovation. SAGA relies on a diverse array of public and private partners to facilitate these investments.

Trade also plays a significant role in economic development. Opening markets to international trade can lead to the exchange of goods and services, attracting foreign investment, and creating opportunities for economic growth. However, it’s essential to strike a balance between open markets and protecting local industries to avoid negative consequences such as job displacement, further reinforcing the wisdom of SAGA’s strong program of existing business support as well as a robust marketing and recruiting effort.

Technological advancement and innovation are major catalysts for economic development as well. Investments in research and development, as well as the adoption of new technologies, can lead to increased efficiency, new industries, and higher productivity levels. Additionally, fostering an environment that supports entrepreneurship and small businesses can drive economic growth by creating jobs and stimulating competition.

In summary, economic development is a dynamic and intricate process that involves various elements, including infrastructure, education, healthcare, trade, innovation, partnership and most importantly people.  It aims to enhance the overall well-being of a community by creating opportunities for growth, reducing poverty and improving the quality of life. By implementing strategic policies, investing in human and physical capital, and embracing technological advancements responsibly, SAGA and all its partners are charting a path towards responsible growth and economic vitality for our community.


Todd Tucker

Economic Development Director