The Lynchburg, Virginia EDA is committed to supporting the local economy. But, what does that really mean? What is economic development? And, how exactly is it accomplished? We get those questions a lot, which is why we’ve compiled a list of the top 5 most popular myths about what we do:
Myth 1: Economic development is only about business attraction
Attracting companies is important, and Lynchburg has been faring well. However, business retention is important, too. Much of the growth, expansion, and new jobs in Lynchburg come from existing businesses.
Creating good relationships with existing businesses helps attract new companies as the city fosters a growing group of thriving local businesses. Essentially, businesses already in the city become ambassadors for the community, marketing Lynchburg and Virginia to the world. By nourishing relationships with existing business and providing them with the resources they need to stay here, we help build a healthy local economy.
Myth 2: A very diverse economy is best
Diversity is good, but clustering is a crucial aspect of economic development. Lynchburg has clusters of business in specific industries – notably education, health care, technology, financial services, construction, forestry and paper, furniture and textiles, manufacturing, and more. Having multiple businesses in these areas means that suppliers, clients, and vendors for the industries are all close to each other.
Related businesses also support each other and help each other grow, leading to a stronger economy overall. Having clusters of businesses rather than a scattering of every type of business possible also means that the educational programs, workforce, and intellectual capital needed for those businesses is in place; helping those companies thrive while attracting new ones.
Myth 3: Quality of life is low priority
Quality of living is a very real issue that strongly affects economic success. In Lynchburg, natural beauty, arts and culture, an award-winning education system, parks, trails, world-class healthcare and appealing housing help attract a high quality workforce. The city’s population has boomed by 15.6% since 2000 in part due to the quality of life in the city. A growing population means that it is easier for companies to attract the best workforce – the most important asset for any business.
Myth 4: Development is about constructing new buildings
Simply building new buildings and eradicating green spaces is not sustainable in the long run. In Lynchburg, there is a limited amount of flat land and lots of existing infrastructure that can be renewed. Redevelopment opportunities are a strong source of economic stimulation. In fact, here are four examples of local redevelopment success stories.
Myth 5: Only big businesses create new jobs
Small businesses are often expanding and creating new jobs. One large corporation is unlikely to hire hundreds of new workers, but across the city multiple small businesses can easily hire hundreds of new workers cumulatively. Whereas traditional economic development focused primarily on larger companies, entrepreneurship nourishment is a much larger component of growth than it used to be.