Economic development is not something you hear about every day. It may take you back to high school where you try to remember exactly what you learned in that economics course you had to take. While economics and economic growth are a major part of economic development, it is not the full story.
Economic growth looks almost solely at numbers. It takes straightforward data, like gross domestic product (GDP), to assess its success. These numbers are taken into consideration and evaluated when discussing economic development, but development takes it a step farther.
(n.) a dedicated effort to create/retain jobs, grow the tax base and increase the standard of living for a community or region.
Economic development covers a lot of ground and this definition is a good explanation of what it is. To create and retain jobs is straightforward. An economy without a workforce is one that cannot survive. A larger tax base means more money for the city/county and more opportunity to put money back into the community. To increase the standard of living once again is pretty straightforward. A better standard of living might include cultivating a community that uplifts and supports one another.
Shoals Economic Development Authority (SEDA) is dedicated to the effort of this definition. We strive to improve the Shoals area by bringing in new opportunities and strengthening the existing industries already here. SEDA is multifaceted just like this definition is. To achieve the different things mentioned here, SEDA distributes our resources into many different areas.
SEDA is always working towards creating and retaining jobs for the Shoals area. Recruiting new companies to locate to the Shoals is a major source of creating jobs. These new companies bring jobs with them. SEDA strives to bring different types of industries in order for each type of worker to have as many job opportunities as possible.
While creating jobs is important, expanding our existing industries here in the Shoals is also highly important. The Shoals area has a wide variety of industry here already. SEDA is committed to helping our existing industries grow and thrive. Our Shoals Employment Growth Program is one way we assist those companies already here and the citizens of our community. This program is designed to encourage full-time employment growth by providing assistance to eligible applicants offering new employment opportunities for Shoals citizens.
There is one thing that is required for expanding the workforce in any area: people who are equipped to perform well at the job they choose. Workforce development is a significant part of SEDA's mission and includes educating and training people to be prepared for whatever area of work they want to pursue. The Shoals' K-12 systems have great opportunities to begin developing workers all throughout a child's career. Preparing students in K-12 is very important and the Shoals is lucky to have higher education opportunities as well to further develop a student's skills. The University of North Alabama and Northwest Shoals Community College (NWSCC) have programs and degrees that are designed to ensure a student is confident and capable to achieve in their career field.
In order to ensure our workforce continues to develop with the ever-changing workplace environments, SEDA partners with North Alabama Works. The council that makes up North Alabama Works collaborates with local industries to coordinate education, training, and job placement to meet the needs of these local industries. One of the events of North Alabama Works is the Worlds of Work event that takes place at NWSCC. This is designed to expose youth to in-demand careers by exploring different "worlds" that will provide hands-on demonstrations relevant to potential career pathways for students.
The next part of the definition of economic development includes growing the tax base. Each of the things mentioned above also serves this purpose. With more industries comes more employers which brings opportunity for more employees. Having these in our area automatically grows our tax base.
A growing tax base is correlated partially to a growing population. Bringing new people to the Shoals in an effort to grow our population is one of the reasons we created the Remote Shoals program. This program will bring 10 new people, who are remote workers, to our area. While this might be only 10 people, our hope is that this program will showcase why the Shoals is a great place to live and encourage others the relocate to our area as well.
The final section of the definition is to increase the standard of living for our community. Standard of living is a broad area that includes many factors. Some of these factors include: employment opportunities, poverty rate, quality and affordability of housing, income, and economic stability. As mentioned above, SEDA works towards creating employment opportunities for our area. All of our efforts are contributing to maintaining economic stability for our area as well. We cannot affect every factor that goes into our standard of living, but we aim to improve every factor that we can.
The Shoals Economic Development Authority is committed to doing everything in our realm of expertise to ensure that the Shoals performs at it's best. For more information about any of the programs or activities mentioned above, you can explore our website further or reach out with additional questions.