EDA’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy guidelines for communities

The Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) was published in 2015 by the Economic Development Agency (EDA), of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

It contributes to effective economic development in America’s communities and regions through a locally-based, regionally-driven economic development planning process. Economic development planning – as implemented through the CEDS – is not only a cornerstone of the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) programs, but successfully serves as a means to engage community leaders, leverage the involvement of the private sector, and establish a strategic blueprint for regional collaboration. The CEDS provides the capacity-building1 foundation by which the public sector, working in conjunction with other economic actors (individuals, firms, industries), creates the environment for regional economic prosperity.

Simply put, a CEDS is a strategy-driven plan for regional economic development. A CEDS is the result of a regionally-owned planning process designed to build capacity and guide the economic prosperity and resiliency of an area or region.2 It is a key component in establishing and maintaining a robust economic ecosystem by helping to build regional capacity (through hard and soft infrastructure) that contributes to individual, firm, and community success.

The CEDS provides a vehicle for individuals, organizations, local governments, institutes of learning, and private industry to engage in a meaningful conversation and debate about what capacity building efforts would best serve economic development in the region. The CEDS should take into account and, where appropriate, integrate or leverage other regional planning efforts, including the use of other available federal funds, private sector resources, and state support which can advance a region’s CEDS goals and objectives. Regions must update their CEDS at least every five years to qualify for EDA assistance under its Public Works and Economic Adjustment Assistance programs. In addition, a CEDS is a prerequisite for designation by EDA as an Economic Development District (EDD).

This guide is primarily intended to assist in efforts to develop the content of a CEDS document. It suggests how to develop the document’s format and substance to make the strongest, most useful and effective CEDS possible. The focus on content in these guidelines does not diminish the importance of the process used to develop a CEDS. A well-led, broadly inclusive process is vital to the creation of a relevant and effective document. It also serves to build leadership, enhance cooperation, and foster public ownership and enthusiasm.

While the high-level steps required to prepare a CEDS can be found in the Preparation section of this document, EDA suggests contacting the appropriate EDA regional office (specific points of contact can be found on EDA’s website at www.eda.gov) to learn more about the overall CEDS process and additional resources and guidance available.

See EDA’s CEDS web page.

Download full CEDS Guidelines (PDF).

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