Nearly every community in America sells a “great quality of life.” Some contend that all a community needs to do is focus on being a great place (community development) and the economic part will simply take care of itself.
On the contrary, for a community to be economically viable, it must make a concerted effort to work on both community development and economic development. They are interdependent and reinforce each other.
It is important to recognize that economic development and community development are not the same. Community development is a process for making a community a better place to live and work. Economic development is purely and simply the creation of wealth from which many community benefits are created.
Some will argue that community development is enough to create a vibrant economy. While important to that end, community development does not factor in important business fundamentals necessary for the successful, sustained operation of businesses. Communities still must make the basic business case to desirable prospective employers.
So, in summary, community development is the process of making the community a better place to live and work and occurs primarily in the public sector. Economic development is the process of creating wealth, in which community benefits are created secondarily. To have a vibrant local economy, a community needs both community development and economic development.