Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) Content Guidelines

The U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) issued revised guidelines in 2015 that outline the federal requirements and guidance for writing a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategies (CEDS). The CEDS guidelines now require regional economic development agencies to consider how climate change will affect economic development and to include strategies for increasing economic resilience. The guidelines acknowledge that a region’s long-term economic resilience will be defined by its ability to quickly recover from economic shocks and that climate change will increasingly cause economic disruptions.

CEDS are intended to layout the economic development priorities of a region and recommend actions for spurring sustainable development and growth. CEDS are required by the EDA to qualify for assistance under the Public Works and Economic Adjustment Programs. Intended to be mechanisms for incorporating economic development with other regional plans, CEDS are to be developed in coordination with regional transportation, sustainability, land use, environmental conservation, workforce and housing development, and disaster resilience plans.
CEDS must include four elements and climate change must be considered in each element:

  1. A summary background – describing the region’s economic situation, including environmental and climatic information that may affect or constrain the regional economy.
  2. A strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis – assessing the regional economy including threats from internal and external trends and forces, including, for example, changes in energy demand and risk to natural hazards as a result of climate change.
  3. An action or strategic direction plan – setting and prioritizing economic development goals and measurable objectives including opportunities to reduce risks of climate change while promoting economic development.
  4. An evaluation framework – criteria and performance measures for evaluating progress implementing the region’s action plan.

Further, regions can include an additional section entirely dedicated to economic resilience that incorporates climate considerations. The EDA suggests that regions consider both “steady-state” initiatives that build resilience during the normal course of business, and “responsive” initiatives that build resilience after an economic disruption such as a major hurricane.

The steady-state initiatives focus on actions to promote the long-term economic durability of the region, including: integrating economic development planning with other planning effort such as hazard mitigation planning; adapting business retention and expansion programs to consider post-disaster recovery; building a resilient workforce that can shift jobs or industries; promoting business continuity and preparedness; and employing safe development practices in business districts (e.g., avoiding floodplains and natural lands).

Responsive initiatives focus on creating information networks and collaborations that can be leveraged to support recovery in the event of an economic disruption, including: conducting pre-disaster recovery planning; creating lines of communications and rapid-response for businesses after an incident; and establishing coordination mechanisms for disaster-recovery. 

The report provides links to a CEDS Resilience Library, which offers recommended resources showing how Economic Development Districts across the country have addressed resilience in their CEDS. Examples of how climate change considerations are being incorporated into economic resilience planning include the South Florida Regional Planning Council CEDS for 2012-2017 and the State of Colorado's Resilience in Economic Development Planning report. 


Publication Date: January 2015

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