Cities are engines of economic growth. As a nation's primary source of job creation and wealth generation, cites produce goods and provide services which strengthen economic opportunities for the entire country. Local Economic Development (LED) is a process of planning and implementation that seeks to increase the economic potential of a city, town, or region. LED aims to improve the economic future and the quality of life for all local residents and businesses. Although the process can be time-intensive, it is important to bring the public, business and civil society sector together to work collectively in creating better conditions for growth and employment generation. This ensures that all available local resources are accessed and that there is sufficient buy-in across all sectors to increase the chances of sustainability.
From a local perspective, economic development is the search for competitive advantage. Large cities must compete with other cities worldwide to attract economic activity and find markets for the goods they produce. Smaller cities compete for an economic advantage vis-�-vis other urban centers in the regional or national economy. Much of a city's potential competitive advantage lies in its various forms of capital (human, natural resources, land, location, and infrastructure).
Decentralization has forced local governments to take more responsibility for designing their own economic development strategies, usually in partnership with the private sector. Public-private partnerships must walk a fine line. Part of their task is to identify or create new profit opportunities for business investment, but the public sector partner also has the responsibility of seeing that the benefits of investment reach all local residents, especially the poor. Strategies to encourage private investment must be blended with strategies to improve the skills of the local labor force and to use public investment to broaden basic service delivery. A good strategy will start by identifying local resources and advantages while also identifying opportunities for building additional strengths. To encourage the private sector to implement this vision of economic growth, an incentive structure should be built in to the strategy. Maintaining an on-going dialogue and continually updating the strategy will ensure that it is both dynamic and flexible. In this global age, it is cities must be adaptive to stay competitive, having the right processes in place will support both the public and private sector actors in playing their part in local economic development.