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Thread: MBA economic development?

  1. #1
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    MBA economic development?

    Hello all!

    So I've been thinking about graduate school and what it is I want to focus on and I think I am leaning towards getting an MBA for a career in Economic Development. My passion is finding ways to revitalize and empower low income communities or (help to bolster high income communities) by utilizing Asset Based Community Development techniques. Basically giving them the tools so that they can rise up out of the muck they are in. At the same time, however, I enjoy having the knowledge of an Urban Planner, yet I absolutely hate the lack of control you have as one. Planners make Plans. That's what they do and if politics get in the way.. you can just forget about it. So being a dynamic person who is always pushing for change, what do you guys think? MBA in business development and entrepreneurship or a UP degree with an emphasis on Economic Development.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Tarf's avatar
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    I'm afraid that no matter what you do, if it involves government, it involves politics. I don't really see how economic development would be any less political than other planning.

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    I should have clarified. I understand that politics will go into anything dealing with government so as far as Economic Development on the public side is concerned. However, on the private side, say working for a private ED firm that specializes in community development. Would a UP or an MBA be more beneficial? I dont know..

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    Cyburbian The District's avatar
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    Do the MBA, and take some economic development classes as electives on the side. That suggestion aside, I think lots of people who try to change the world for the better have challenges that aren't that different than public sector planners, regardless of what field they are in. Improving communities can be very difficult, no matter who you are and what what your occupation is.

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    Advice taken. I just find it frustrating when you have a plan that you have slaved over for years, then in a matter of minutes it can be shelved because Politician X wants something added to his or her area. I'm like WTF?? I never really understood the cynicism that so many planners have, but I totally get it now ... And I don't want a career like that. At least if your making money you can do what you want to do... most of the time.

  6. #6
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Planitgood View post
    Advice taken. I just find it frustrating when you have a plan that you have slaved over for years, then in a matter of minutes it can be shelved because Politician X wants something added to his or her area. I'm like WTF?? I never really understood the cynicism that so many planners have, but I totally get it now ... And I don't want a career like that. At least if your making money you can do what you want to do... most of the time.
    That will happen no matter what. When the tides turn - new elected officials always have different agendas. You might be pro business one 4 year cycle and then pro environment the next.

    Our job is political. Any iteration of planning either public or private working for public, will see this.
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

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    Cyburbian Tarf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Planitgood View post
    Advice taken. I just find it frustrating when you have a plan that you have slaved over for years, then in a matter of minutes it can be shelved because Politician X wants something added to his or her area. I'm like WTF?? I never really understood the cynicism that so many planners have, but I totally get it now ... And I don't want a career like that. At least if your making money you can do what you want to do... most of the time.
    In my experience, with exception of large planning projects (e.g., General Plans), you shouldn't normally get in a situation where your plans are completely changed so late in the process. Minor tweaks maybe, but not wholesale changes.

    General Plans (and probably to some extent, community plans) are like that, though. But that's because with such large land area involved, you have a HUGE list of stakeholders.

    For economic development, you're dealing with smaller areas typically than General Plans, so you're right in that sense that you're less likely to have your plans hacked to pieces by the politicians late in the process. However, they're just as prone to changes requested by politicians as most (non General Plan) planning efforts.

    In my experience - your mileage may vary.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    You could also consider a graduate degree in economics if you want to pursue ED.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

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    You may also want to consider getting an MPA or MPP from a school that specializes in economic development. There are linkages beteween these degrees, business and urban planning.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    I have done economic development around the country and there is no best degree for the field. Since you asked the question based strictly upon education, the best of my peers in the field had an MPP and took real estate development courses as electives. The ones with MBA's have tended to get frustrated with: the political nature of the business; the amount of public involvement and transparency required; the triple bottom line nature of redevelopment and thus struggle with the job. That being said I have worked with several talented ED professionals that have no masters and learned by doing.

    You would be better off finding a job with a CDC for little money and get practical experience and save yourself $35,000 in school related debt. In Arizona there are 7 ED jobs open and they want a bachelors degree and experience not a masters degree and no experience.
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

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