Guest Blog: Economic Development is a Team Sport

Photo Credit: JTG Media

Collaboration is one of the most important but daunting pieces to a successful economic development community. To create an effective, efficient, and high-performing economy, we must first understand the importance of collaboration. 

During MEDA’s 2024 Annual Conference, the closing fireside chat was a discussion amongst two thought leaders who truly understand the importance of collaboration, and how regional and national economic development entities can foster greater synergy for a mutual benefit. The discussion featured the U.S. Economic Development Association’s (EDA) Deputy Assistant Secretary for Regional Affairs, Craig Buerstatte and Mark Anthony Thomas, Greater Baltimore Committee’s (GBC) President & CEO. 

The two leaders discussed how communities excel and how they may be holding themselves back–and others by association–from succeeding in the long run. Buerstatte outlined what he’s seeing in communities having trouble moving forward, from breaking down the artificial barriers–the more we build together, the better we are together–to changing behaviors at the local level and how to apply for support. 

This conversation went on to highlight the ways everyone can redirect their mindset, embrace potential weaknesses, and lean into their strengths. We all have things we’re doing well, but we likely can’t do everything well, which is why we need to utilize the resources at hand–other ecosystem collaborators. 

There are many opportunities for organizations to gain support to help them excel, including strategic investments in job creation, leveraging the private sector, and advancing technology investments (e.g. the Baltimore Tech Hub). 

Buerstatte continued by outlining some of the things the EDA is doing well: 

  1. Fund and invest
  2. Policy and regulation–policies are not just about safety and security, but also about incentivizing action.
  3. Convene and amplify–bringing together regional coalitions to connect and accelerate growth.

“We need to start collaborating and not reinvent the wheel.” – Craig Buerstatte

Photo Credit: JTG Media

And, some of the hidden ingredients to help communities recover and thrive: 

  1. The ability to have humility and willingness to change and move forward.
  2. Thinking creatively and boldly.
  3. Building back with a renewed view of the future.

One example Buerstatte provided on building back the community was how the impact of Hurricane Katrina motivated the community to embrace the environment and lean into their strengths. They became a robust water technology and transportation hub for some of the largest water, energy, transit, and storage technologies now being manufactured in the New Orleans region, which created jobs and economic resiliency. 

In closing, Buerstatte made it clear that the theme to a successful community is “collective participation.” Communities that are incentivizing, creating resources, and innovating, are the ones that will thrive in the long run. The Baltimore Tech Hub, led by the Greater Baltimore Committee, is a great example of a mutually beneficial resource that’s moving the state forward, because if Baltimore succeeds, Maryland succeeds, and then our nation will succeed. 

At TEDCO, we are strong supporters of bringing together Maryland’s innovation ecosystem and working alongside all of our collaborators to drive the economy forward. The Baltimore Tech Hub Consortium and TEDCO’s Cultivate Maryland Coalition of the Willing are just a couple examples of collaboration efforts in the state that have helped to drive innovation and lead to a more equitable future.

Written By Cassy Haber, Director, Development & Marketing, TEDCO, MEDA Young Leader

Leave a Reply