Urban planning community | #theplannerlife

+ Reply to thread
Results 1 to 9 of 9

Thread: Transitioning from Planning to Economic Development

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Doberman's avatar
    Registered
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Birmingham AL
    Posts
    168

    Transitioning from Planning to Economic Development

    I've worked as a Transit Planner for a year, and as a county planner for a little over two now. Recently I've started to become more restless at my job. Like most people I want better opportunities and I feel like I'm sitting around waiting for others to retire. Even with moving up in the department, I'm largely uninterested in the mostly short-range planning that we do. Being that work for a county, the vast majority of our workload is not the kind of exciting projects that draw many to planning. While some unincorporated parts of the county are suburban, most of our work centers around small subdivisions in rural areas for mobile homes etc. Our county has a separate department that administers most of the grants and a quasi-public agency that does economic and industrial development. While I know this isn't the case for other planners, I feel like I'm just processing paperwork at my job.

    After recently not getting a job I interviewed for because I simply didn't have the long range planning experience the position called for, I've been looking at a change of pace. I know that the grass is always greener on the other side, but I feel like getting into the Economic Development side of things would be exciting. I really have not been able to find a concrete degree requirement to get into this though. I did micro and macro in undergrad, but my BS was in Political Science and Masters was in Public Administration. Do you need a Masters in Applied Economics or similar field to get into this kind of job? How does the job differ from planning? Is it accurate that Economic Developers are largely administering grants, recruiting businesses, and analyzing the local economy?

  2. #2
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2005
    Location
    in a meeting
    Posts
    9,845
    I think economic development is not a hard transition - perhaps getting position that includes economic development?

    Planners are good with demographic data, understand the need for planning for growth, can help folks through permitting processes - so some basic skills are already in place

    maybe take classes to get the IEDC letters after your name will help - join the economic development division at APA - network with your state/regional economic development groups

    good luck!

  3. #3
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Where Valley Fever Lives
    Posts
    8,180
    Blog entries
    1

    Hmmmm

    Buy knee pads and breath mints
    LOS F = Fine, just fine.
    “The way of acquiescence leads to moral and spiritual suicide. The way of violence leads to bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers. But, the way of non-violence leads to redemption and the creation of the beloved community.”
    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
    - See more at: http://www.thekingcenter.org/king-ph....r7W02j3S.dpuf

  4. #4
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2005
    Location
    in a meeting
    Posts
    9,845
    Quote Originally posted by The One View post
    Buy knee pads and breath mints
    LOS F = Fine, just fine.
    Off-topic:
    post of the day

  5. #5
    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Lowering the PCI in the Hills
    Posts
    7,565
    I work on the economic development side of things and I think your educational background in political science and policy combined with your experience in planning would be more than adequate for many economic development jobs, especially on the public side. We have a pretty large economic development staff and work with economic development folks from many local communities and I think I'd be hard pressed to find more than a few with anything more than a basic economics BS/BA, most seem to come from policy, real estate, finance, etc. If you wanted to work for one of the larger commercial real estate firms or banks or public accounting firms that have real estate consulting arms, there you might need more of the applied economics or econometrics background.

    In the end, to get your foot in the door on either the public or the private side, you need to be able to show that you are personable and have that "salesman" type of attitude since it is essentially a sales job.
    "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." - 1980 Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Doberman's avatar
    Registered
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Birmingham AL
    Posts
    168
    Quote Originally posted by WSU MUP Student View post
    I work on the economic development side of things and I think your educational background in political science and policy combined with your experience in planning would be more than adequate for many economic development jobs, especially on the public side. We have a pretty large economic development staff and work with economic development folks from many local communities and I think I'd be hard pressed to find more than a few with anything more than a basic economics BS/BA, most seem to come from policy, real estate, finance, etc. If you wanted to work for one of the larger commercial real estate firms or banks or public accounting firms that have real estate consulting arms, there you might need more of the applied economics or econometrics background.

    In the end, to get your foot in the door on either the public or the private side, you need to be able to show that you are personable and have that "salesman" type of attitude since it is essentially a sales job.
    Could you give me an idea of what the typical responsibilities are for a economic developer on the public sector side? I know that they tend to write, apply, and administer grants and recruit businesses into the areas they serve. Do they also recruit residential developers, say if your city has vacant properly zoned land and infrastructure? I've looked recently at University of North Dakota's online Applied Economics Masters. How much of the job entails that level of analysis? Are you the effects of public policy on the local economy and/or pitching the strengths of your local economy to developers?

    I think of myself as a fairly personable and social guy, I'm not the car salesman type, but I doubt that's what you meant by a salesman or what most would be looking for in a developer.

    I know the grass is always greener on the other side, but I would like more of a proactive job than what I'm doing now, which feels like I'm processing paperwork for the most part.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Feb 2013
    Location
    The Midwest, God's gift to Planet Earth
    Posts
    298

    Try this!

    http://ndconline.org/training/. It is national and there are several different course offerings both online and in person in certain cities. My coworker is currently doing the program and she found it immensely relevant and eye opening. Click the brochure link on the right hand column - that PDF has all the details.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Sep 2010
    Location
    About 45 minutes southeast of Thibodaux, Lousiana
    Posts
    36
    Economic Development positions seem to very a lot in my experience. Grants and business recruitment seem to be the basic parts of the job in many less progressive places. To me, it's really all about being a municipal finance expert. Knowing bonds, special taxes, fees/charges, assessment, special districts, TIF, state programs, fiscal impact analysis, etc is huge if you're serious. You also need to be creative. I've grown to appreciate the field more and more, while also becoming disappointed in the weak efforts I've observed.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Promoting synergies...
    Posts
    3,687
    There is no one skillset you need to do economic development. Its a very multi-disciplinary field and different communities have different needs. Being a planner and understanding the process is a plus. It was something I had to learn as I came from the private sector and never took a planning class in grad school. You will need to understand real estate, economic and industry trends, marketing, workforce, tax policy, contracts, infrastructure needs, be collaborative with other depts. and agencies and be able to write a proposal and research the information. Since economic development is not a clearly defined profession it will vary from city to city and EDC to EDC. The concepts are the same but the execution does vary.

    The upside is since every elected official is running on jobs it is a field that is growing. On the downside few positions are entry level except in the far out hinterlands.

    Most people think all you do is hang out with brokers, bitch at planners to interpret the code and not just read it, and throw money at companies like you are businessman at a strip club in Thailand. Incentives are a small piece of the puzzle and before you even get to that point you need to be able to articulate your communities value proposition and present your community in a way that shows a company will be making the most strategic choice by choosing your community. Its partly about data, partly about understanding the companies business and weaving all of that into a story. Most of the work focuses on the existing business sector and helping them leverage programs and partnerships in the region so they do not leave. If you know the industry trends you can better identify challenges and companies that are at risk.

    Can you do all of this? Sure, its not hard...almost anyone who is committed to learning can figure this out. The best economic developers are not slick sales people (these types rarely last) they are professionals who understand the systems of business and government and provide the conduit between the two. If you can be agile and adaptive and are okay with vague direction and measurable you too can be an economic developer.
    "You merely adopted the dark. I was born in it,..." -Bane

+ Reply to thread

More at Cyburbia

  1. Transitioning to private development... advice?
    Career Development and Advice
    Replies: 9
    Last post: 14 Mar 2016, 7:26 PM
  2. Replies: 4
    Last post: 09 Jul 2012, 12:53 PM
  3. Replies: 3
    Last post: 22 Feb 2010, 10:47 AM
  4. Land use planning and economic development
    Economic and Community Development
    Replies: 0
    Last post: 15 Sep 1998, 2:37 PM
  5. Linking Planning and Economic Development
    Economic and Community Development
    Replies: 0
    Last post: 15 Oct 1996, 10:52 AM