Time to start certifying our Economic Developers?
The recent Eurozone crisis was triggered by world financial markets which suddenly realized (challenged by the world rating agencies) that the South European economies are not only highly overloaded by public debt but they lack a capacity for growth in order to serve this debt in the years ahead.
It is well known that the world champion concerning public debt is the US. But the markets can digest the high public debt rate if the economy shows capacity for growth. In the American case the government also showed muscles to the rating agencies but the capacity for economic growth of the American economy was the real reason for investors to believe that their investments are safe.
Well, the capacity for economic growth is not a fiction. This is a combination of factors for growth and knowledge how to develop the resources of your region and how to attract investors. Speaking about the knowledge, this is a highly specialized professional capacity which does not fit the idea we all have about the so called “administrative capacity”. In the US and Canada this knowledge is injected into the regional systems for development by highly trained professionals with significant experience in economic development and solid record in strategic public management. They are called Certified Economic Developers and they are acting as architects for regional economies. They build the intellectual infrastructure which makes possible for regional and local governments to manage the regional resources and regional development. They are the brains behind the “capacity for growth”.
How about Europe?
The profession “Certified Economic Developer” does not exist in Europe.
The capacity for Economic Development Strategic Planning is not recognized as something of high importance. It is seen as a part of the conventional “administrative capacity” and during the process of Local Governments’ Quality Management Systems ISO assessment is going unnoticed.
This is like to expect writing a book, or writing a song without having available this magic substance of intellectual charge called “inspiration”.
Regional development is everything but not “administrative task”. It requires a complex mix of inspiration combined with strong professionalism in order to get the region ahead of the aggressive competition for investments and other factors for growth these days.
Initiated by Formula Europa Institute, on March 31, 2011, a Partnership consisting The University for National and World Economy, Bulgaria; The National Academy of Sciences of Hungary; The Regional Development Agency of Leipzig, Germany; The Spatial Planning Ltd, Ireland and Formula Europa Institute, Brussels submitted a Project which would eventually develop European professional standard for Certified Economic Developers.
The project was not approved.
*ESPAC Initiative stands for European Strategic Planning Assessment & Certification Initiative