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What is an Economic Development Ecosystem?

Updated: Oct 12, 2023


An ecosystem in nature consists of a community of interacting organisms within a physical location. Similarly, an economic development ecosystem consists of a well-thought-out network of interconnected organizations and institutions, within a defined area, that collaborate to enhance the economic well-being of a community.


An economic ecosystem thrives when participants develop patterns of behavior which streamline the flow of ideas, talent, and capital throughout the system.

Biomimicry for your Organization

Biomimicry is the process of taking ideas from nature and applying them to human problems. Velcro, sonar, tape, and submarines are examples we are all familiar with. A newer application is office buildings that mimic termite dens. A 90% reduction in energy use is achieved by mimicking the ventilation structure used by termites when building dens.

All above examples of biomimicry are at the micro-level. When applying this methodology for business at the macro-level, we begin to observe and mimic an entire ecosystem.

Nature’s Advantage

Rarely, if ever, do humans solve problems better than nature. The main difference of course, nature does not care about stakeholders, it simply balances. Economic ecosystems do the same, but additional factors are in play.

A fully functional economic ecosystem must consider the well-being of the entire community, contemplating desired impacts and economic outcomes.

So, what model do we use to incorporate stakeholders into the development of a strong, balanced ecosystem?

Economic Development Integrated Ecosystem

© 2021 Barry Matherly, Hickey Global Economic Development Consulting, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Developing an integrated ecosystem will support business development activities and provide a collaborative platform to improve economic foundations that are the focus of external partners. Business development activities focus on attracting, retaining, and expanding businesses. Economic foundations focus on talent, infrastructure, innovation, and other buildings blocks on a community.

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Check back soon for the next post in this series:

How to Develop a Collaborative Economic Development Ecosystem: coordinate, communicate, and share

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