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Throughout its history, EDA investments have been guided by the basic principle that communities must be empowered to develop and implement their own locally-ownedeconomic development and revitalization strategies based on their region’s unique assets and needs. This perspective is built on recognition that without a clear plan, communities will not achieve their economic development goals.
Economic development planning – as implemented through the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) process– is not only a cornerstone of EDA’s programs, but successfully serves as a means to engage community leaders, leverage the involvement of the private sector, and establish a strategic blueprint for regional collaboration. In recent years, EDA has witnessed a growing number of states that have rolled-up the work of their regions’ individual CEDS to more effectively address larger, cross-cutting needs and priorities or to attain benefits that accrue beyond regional boundaries that may require economies of scale to implement. By consolidating and coordinating economic development efforts, statewide CEDS cut across county and regional lines to break down silos and ensure that all state agencies are working toward common goals, addressing a growing need for integrated planning and statewide project prioritization, especially for federally-funded projects.
Vermont is one of the first states to embrace this statewide view of economic development planning. The state’s economic development leaders spearheaded Vermont 2020, a statewide CEDS document, that lays out goals they hope to achieve over the next few years. Finalized and signed by Governor Shumlin in July 2014, Vermont 2020 is designed to help all of Vermont become more resilient in the face of economic and natural challenges. The strategy sets forth broad-based statewide goals that can be adapted locally, within any particular region of the state.