Last month, the Bay Area took a big step toward coordinating its varied economic development interests across the region by adopting a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS). Led by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), this effort will ultimately lead to the designation of a Regional Economic Development District (EDD) by the U.S. Department of Economic Development. This designation, leveraged by many other metropolitan areas, will make jurisdictions and organizations in the Bay Area more competitive for grants and other programs from federal and state agencies and foundations. Becoming a regional EDD also establishes a framework for intraregional cooperation on economic initiatives and concerns among elected officials and jurisdictions, economic, workforce, business, labor, and community organizations and directly with businesses.

The concept of an EDD is not new, and other metropolitan areas have utilized the tool for years as a way to organize major initiatives or projects. The truth is that the Bay Area has prospered for so long, thanks to the strength of its economic assets, that the need for an EDD was historically not obvious. However, with serious issues like housing and transportation necessitating much stronger regional collaboration, a shifting perspective is afoot with local leaders and influencers more often speaking on behalf of the Bay Area, not one jurisdiction over another.

And let’s face it, other regions across the U.S. are making great strides, and it’s important for the Bay Area to be proactive to maintain its competitive edge. As an example, one of the most important outcomes of the CEDS is the creation of Priority Production Area (PPA) designations. This policy provides a framework for encouraging land use decisions that protect industrially zoned or employment-generating land, recognizing that these areas contribute heavily to the region’s economic vitality. PPAs will help ensure that the region can continue to accommodate manufacturing and other supply chain activities.

Creating the EDD and the process of producing the CEDS will improve our collective understanding of the regional economy and can support broader initiatives within a wide range of federal, state, foundation and local partners. In turn, it will facilitate a much greater ability to address shared problems, realize mutual goals, and leverage regional resources.

Click HERE to learn more about the Bay Area Regional Economic Development District.

Bay Area Urban Manufacturing Initiative sharing best practices, including supporting creation of the new Priority Production Areas (PPAs) under the new CEDS