About EcoDevo 101: The practice of economic development is vital to the advancement of any thriving community. It is also often misunderstood. In this series, we’ll dig deeper into the topics that underpin the profession, from public policy and mobility to technology and community planning, among many others.

The United States officially entered a recession in March of 2020, after more than 10 years of economic expansion.  According to the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), a recession can be defined as “a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months”. Some of the indicators watched by the NBER include a loss of jobs, a decline in real income, a slowdown in industrial production and manufacturing, and a slump in consumer spending. All of these indicators dipped into recession territory when pandemic-inspired policy responses essentially shut down much of the economy in the first quarter of 2020.

Retail and restaurant establishments were among the entities impacted the most harshly during the 2020 recession leading to job losses, a consumer products manufacturing slow down, and a sharp decline of consumer spending at brick-and-mortar establishments.

During a recession, local economic development programs are critical to help individuals and companies navigate toward the time when the economy begins to grow again and recover. Some of these activities are foundational and long term, and others are specific to the recession and more temporary in nature.

Workforce Development

Many of the efforts that economic development organizations undertake during a recession are related to workforce development.  Activities like training and retraining workers who have lost their jobs and connecting job seekers with companies that are hiring are just two of the efforts that can minimize the damage done by a recession. Some economic development organizations host job fairs, provide internet and computer training, and others offer programs to upgrade skills. 

Business Retention

Supporting the existing business community is another role that economic development organizations play during a recession. A business retention program is important at any time, but especially during challenging economic times. Economic development agencies often support local businesses by lobbying to modify state and local policy, providing grants to make up for lost revenue, and conducting advertising campaigns to encourage shopping at main street businesses.

Business Attraction & Recruitment

Economic development organizations’ efforts to recruit companies to a region are also important through a recession. While some companies are freezing hiring or are laying off – other companies are continuing to expand and are hiring. In fact, some companies make decisions to move into new markets during a recession. 

Every recession is different, and a diversified industry base helps communities weather the downturn even more. The 2009 recession impacted the housing, construction and financial services industries the most, while the 2020 recession was devastating to the retail and restaurant industries.

Connecting laid off workers with available jobs, diversifying the industry base of a community, and addressing existing business needs are just some of the foundational activities economic develop groups undertake to support their communities.

To see the role Denver South plays in our regional and state economy visit: https://denver-south.com/the-organization/economic-development/