Most neighborhoods, cities, regions and state in the USA are served by some form of economic development organization (EDO), responsible for fostering economic opportunity – these EDOs include state and local government agencies, community development financial institutions, chambers of commerce, sustainable business organizations, workforce investment boards, unions, and others. EDOs increasingly recognize the importance of nurturing a healthy environment and providing opportunities to disadvantaged community. However, they need viable strategies to make these goals a reality.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Community Innovators Lab (CoLab) launched the Green Economic Development Initiative (GEDI) in 2012, to help economic development practitioners foster a greener, more just, economy. GEDI consists of a small group of staff, graduate student researchers, and faculty. We believe practitioners must transform economic development by:

  • Integrating environmental and equity goals into existing practice.
  • Promoting structural changes to the economy
  • Collaborating with a broader range of stakeholders in other fields and institutions

To illustrate how such transformation can be achieved, GEDI engages in action research – we undertake applied research projects to develop resources and tools economic development practitioners can use to support a greener economy. And we work to build practitioners’ capacity to influence green sectors, recruiting cohorts of EDOs to engage in strategic planning initiatives.

GEDI is generously supported by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. A network of economic development practitioners, the 2012 CoLab Mel King Community Fellows cohort, help steer our activities.

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CREDIT: PSRC. GEDI staff and MIT students on assignment with City of Bellevue staff.