Economic development organizations that  involve key private sector leaders have proven effective in creating and shepherding strategic planning efforts.

These organizations are typically nonprofits with substantial representation of the private sector on the board of directors or nonprofit partnerships who have private sector members. The organizations seek to leverage the talent, connections, and financial resources of high-level executives to solve economic development challenges at the community-wide level, often through creating and executing strategic plans.

MassINC profiles a number of these organizations operating in Massachusetts’ Gateway Cities (small, distressed communities) in their report “Leading Together: Building Private Nonprofit Economic Development Organizations for Gateway City Growth and Renewal.” This report finds five key strategies for building successful economic development organizations:

  1. Make for-profit businesses the backbone
  2. Build capacity strategically, clearly defining roles and coordinating with other entities
  3. Achieve an appropriate amount of independence from municipal government
  4. Diversify revenue streams
  5. Quantify results

For an illustration of the impact of business-led economic development non-profit over time, read about the Lancaster City Alliance in the Lancaster case study.