Reflections from the IEDC Leadership Conference

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

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It was my privilege to represent EDASC and Skagit County at the annual Leadership Conference of the International Economic Development Council (IEDC), the world’s leading professional association for economic developers. The conference welcomes CEOs of economic development organizations, certified economic developers (CEc.D’s), and IEDC Board members — so it’s a triple for me. The programming at the event tends to bring lots of great tips and opportunities to talk with colleagues who face some of the same challenges as we do. Aside from board and committee meetings, I added to my reading list, and participated in some great discussions on regional and rural economic development, capacity building, trade and investment missions, new types of metrics for economic development organizations, and investor engagement. In addition, I was invited to participate in a special executive leadership roundtable dealing with the upcoming challenges for all our communities. 

One of the overarching messages was the interconnectedness of urban and rural communities, municipalities and states, in their goals and issues, and as a result how each can advocate for the other because our success in intertwined. Broadband availability in rural areas emerged in a number of different sessions as a priority need, which validates further EDASC’s emphasis on this project as a goal for 2017. In the bigger picture, another trend that echoes EDASC’s new direction is the broadening of the concept and role of economic development, to include various areas that impact community prosperity and wellness: early learning, housing affordability, education and training, transportation, and collaboration.

Finally, sessions on increasing engagement among investors of economic development organizations provided some useful tips and ideas. Next steps in the economic development world involve attempting to discern the priorities of the new administration in the other Washington, and how they might affect us. We’ll keep you posted!

- John Sternlicht, CEO

Category: Leadership, Training, Economy