Tag Archives: quality of life

Economic development should focus on people, not places

What does economic development mean?

The term is certainly common enough that everyone has heard it, but when asked to define economic development, I’m willing to bet that most people will give different answers.

Often, we speak of economic development of place. We speak of Schenectady’s downtown being in a Renaissance with new buildings, refurbished streetscapes, new companies, and new restaurants turning downtown around. Downtown is showing new signs of life.

But downtown is not a person. It has no well being, no soul. It matters not to downtown if a new business moves in, nor if the buildings are collapsing. Therefore, money spent to make downtown a nicer place is wasted money.

So, if investing in a place is not worthwhile, then what is? How should we define economic development?

First we must give some thought to why we think investing in a place is worthwhile. The most obvious reason is that we take pride in showing off our city to the word, and an attractive looking downtown is one way to do it. A nice looking community engenders a sense of community pride, while a decaying building evokes feelings of regret and worry about things falling apart.

At its base, investing in a shiny new downtown makes us feel good. But is that the best use of our money?

Instead of focusing on development of place,  we should focus on development of people. When we change the focus away from place to people, new development gets scrutinized differently. We should be asking, “how does this investment improve the quality of life of existing residents?” or “Is there a more effective use of the money to improve residential quality of life?”

Changing the paradigm away from place and towards people is important because people are what matter. It is people’s lives that should be improved with economic development, not places.

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Goose Hill Celebrates Community Volunteers at Steinmetz Pavilion Ceremony

I had the privilege of attending the opening ceremony for the Steinmetz Park pavilion this afternoon. Thanks to the hard work of many volunteers over 7 years and grants from both the state and county, Goose Hill has been able to greatly improve the quality of Steinmetz Park.

Camille Sasinowski leads the ceremony
Camille Sasinowski leads the ceremony

The ribbon cutting ceremony featured a wonderful lunch of fried chicken with many sides provided by neighbors and a make your own sundae from Stewarts! They also had face painting for the kids and raffles to help raise more money for the park’s master plan.

After the ribbon was cut, food consumed, and most of the press and politicians had left, the association honored several people for their volunteer work. One woman was honored for her work with the pavilion, another for picking up trash in the neighborhood. I wish I had the names of each awardee with a brief statement signifying what they were honored for, but it’s these people who help make the quality of life better for everyone one of the great signs of a community bettering itself.

An awardee receives her certificate
An awardee receives her certificate

Steinmetz park is looking great, and I can’t wait to see how it improves over the years through the continuing efforts of community volunteers.