3 Keys to Developing Cities and Improving Lives: An Introduction to Community, Business, and Economic Development

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” – Theodore Roosevelt

In a time when it seems hard to agree on anything — one thing we all can agree on is our desire to improve our quality of life. Regardless of how nice your house is, if it’s built on top of a swamp, it’s bound to sink. In other words, our communities will determine the quality of life that we are both able to obtain and maintain. Crime rates, employment opportunities, the state of the housing market — all are products  of local development.

Here in Bloomington/Normal, we have all the potential in the world to be great, but like most things in life, there are obstacles to overcome. There are unused buildings left from factories that have moved elsewhere, empty mall space, jobs that are moving down south, and fear of what the future will bring if things continue to trend downwards.

It’s time to actively and intentionally work together to begin improving and growing our cities and the communities within them.

Improving anything, especially a community, takes development. For the conditions of a city to improve, I believe that focusing efforts on three forms of development are absolutely necessary — community, business, and economic. Before we can really move any of them forward, which should be done simultaneously, we need to have a firm grasp of what each is.

I recently realized that although I have spent decades developing businesses, volunteering for local government, and working with entrepreneurs, I didn’t have a clear definition of each form of development. What I do know is that development — real development — takes 5, 10, or even 20 years to accomplish, but benefits can be gained right from the start.

I decided to write a short series on this topic to start a conversation that I believe we all need to be having in order to grow the cities we live in and help ourselves and our neighbors improve quality of life.

I’ll interview experts, further develop my own thoughts on each, discuss how each plays an important role in my community, why they must all be in place, and most importantly, I’ll ask for your thoughts on each. Are you ready? Are you prepared to change your community for the better? If so, I have two questions for you. Feel free to write your answer in the comment section below or email me your responses at

  • What do you think your city or local community needs in order to grow?


  • How would you define each form of development?


I look forward to exploring this important topic with you. Let’s get to work!

Michael Straza is an experienced business development consultant specializing in assisting small businesses and startups grow and overcome the barriers they face. Michael is experienced in succession planning, business evaluation, business expansion, and more. What are you trying to develop? Let’s talk. Click here to start the conversation.

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