Economic development officers (EDOs) promote the economic interests of their local area. They are sometimes known as community economic development officers, regeneration officers or economic advisers. Their overall aim is to retain and increase the number of jobs in the area and to help unemployed people back into work. They try to attract new employers to the area, and help small and medium-sized local businesses to become more competitive through access to new technology and finding new markets. They may also help them to develop the skills of their managers and workforce.
When a business or industry is considering moving into the area, the EDO helps co-ordinate the project. They seek funding, often from the European Union, develop partnerships between the business and the local authority, research, identify and advise on a suitable location, and look for specialist advisers where necessary.
If tourism is important to the area, an EDO works alongside tourism officers to seek funding to develop and market local attractions, and may be involved in the provision of training for local leisure and tourism employers.
EDOs may be involved in all aspects of economic development work, or they may specialise in one aspect such as encouraging inward investment, setting up training schemes, tourism development or attracting funding.
EDOs are usually employed for 36 to 37 hours a week, although they often have to work longer hours including evenings and weekends to meet deadlines. Flexitime is common. Part-time work or job-share may be available.
The work is mainly office-based, although time is spent travelling to meetings, visiting companies and development sites. A driving licence is usually required.
To be an economic development officer you should:
EDOs work for local authorities, development agencies, Learning and Skills Councils or Local Enterprise Companies. Jobs are often offered on fixed-term contracts, according to the funding available.
Some local authorities have just one EDO, while others have a team. The size of an economic development department reflects local need - deprived areas usually employ more EDOs. Promotion to senior or principal officer is based on merit. EDOs often have to move to another employer to be promoted.
Experienced EDOs can work in other organisations such as enterprise agencies and Business Link. Self-employment as a consultant is possible. A few find work abroad with a development agency or with a UK local authority that has a European office.
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