What Is an Economic Development Authority?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 04 October 2019
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An economic development authority promotes economic growth in a region. This role is commonly played by a government agency, although some may contract this service out to private firms. Such agencies work to make an appealing business climate in order to attract companies to the area. They also maintain relations in the community to retain and support businesses, and may participate in other activities to improve economic welfare.

Growth may be linked with rises in standard of living. An economic development authority could have specific goals, like reducing the number of people living in poverty, that it uses to measure success. As growth occurs, people may attain higher educational levels, expect to live longer, and experience other benefits. Development agencies may directly fund some business endeavors as well as providing services to help businesses access funding, advice, and other services they may find helpful.

One aspect of the promotion of regional growth can involve attracting new businesses and encouraging local residents to start businesses. An economic development authority might want to revitalize a downtown district, convert an old factory, or promote other development in a region. To attract businesses, it could provide information about grants and loans as well as other programs that might be useful. For example, small locally-owned businesses might quality for work assistance programs, where a government agency might pay part of the wages for a local worker to stimulate job creation.


Established businesses can turn to an economic development authority for financial and other help. This can include help with applying for permits, addressing regulatory issues, and other topics. When businesses want to arrange events like conferences, street fairs, contests, and so forth, they might cooperate with the economic development authority, which could offer assistance. Such organizations can also help businesses connect with each other; a new company might need a provider of a service, for example, and the economic development authority could provide local references.

In addition to promoting business, an economic development authority might also be concerned with minority representation and welfare. It could encourage members of minority communities to start and expand businesses. Campaigns to encourage businesses to consider hiring people with disabilities and other minorities might also be part of the work of the organization. This can be a particular concern in regions where inequality between social groups is very high, as encouraging more minority engagement with businesses could help to equalize the community.


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