How to Be An Economic Development Leader: Jeff Finkle


Creating a Foundation to Help People

Ep. 75 - Jeff Finkle - As President and CEO of the International Economic Development Council, Jeff Finkle is a recognized leader and authority on economic development. In this episode, Jeff talks about his role as deputy assistant secretary at HUD in the mid-80s and his contribution to economic development. One of the many things you will learn in this interview is how to create a foundation which serves people in need. Jeffrey talks about his time at HUD, how economic development is going to become even more important in the future and gives some great advice to young people ready to start a career. Listen in to learn about the internal and external challenges that organizations face in their day-to-day operations. You will also learn the importance of having education, practice, and patience in your career of choice before seriously venturing into it.

Key Takeaways:

    • How to always walk into a meeting prepared to save time as a young professional
    • The importance of getting the education that supports the career you want to venture into
    • How to gain experience in your career of choice by doing internships and volunteer programs in that particular industry
    • Develop patience during your career beginnings to enjoy the journey

"Before you take your first job in economic development, do some internships or volunteer, and make sure you have the passion for it." -Jeffrey Finkle

In this episode you'll discover:

Jeff defines his role of making presentations on business incentives issues to the housing academy [0:48]
He talks about the issues HUD went through in the mid-80s and his role as its assistant secretary [4:24]
The personal and professional growth he gained as the assistant secretary at HUD [5:47]
He shares a story on his contribution in the setting up of the Myriad Gardens, Oklahoma City [9:58]
Why he helped start a foundation to help families in the community development sector [13:09]
How IEDC creates, retains, expands shops, and develops tech spaces in work communities [17:35]
How they handle operational challenges and helping members deal with economic disasters [19:03]
The economic and housing challenges of the pandemic [20:53]
Jeff shares 3 pieces of advice to young people wanting to venture into economic development [23:25]


As President and CEO of the International Economic Development Council (IEDC), Jeff Finkle is a recognized leader and international authority on economic development. With the formation of IEDC in 2001 following the merger of the Council for Urban Economic Development (CUED) - where he was president for 15 years - and the American Economic Development Council (AEDC), Jeff set the course for a more effective and influential organization. Today IEDC is the world's largest economic development membership organization and is a $5 million annual operation that is renowned for its leadership in professionalizing and diversifying the field of economic development.

As head of IEDC, Finkle oversees an organization with more than 5,000 members across he United States, as well as Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and other nations. Finkle has established multilateral partnerships with regional and national economic development organizations around the world.

Jeff Finkle serves as the Voinovich School's Appalachian New Economy Partnership Fellow.

Jeff previously served as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and has received numerous awards over the years for his commitment to making sustainable economic development a priority in communities of all sizes. Significantly, in 2011 he was lauded by the U.S. Department of Commerce for his 25 years of stewardship over CUED and IEDC. Moreover, as a longtime leader in community service and philanthropy, in 2005 Jeff organized 250 economic development volunteers to work in Gulf Coast communities endeavoring to recover from Hurricane Katrina. In 1989 he also founded the Bollinger Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides financial assistance to children who have lost a parent who worked in the field of economic development.


A frequent lecturer and author of numerous articles, Jeff has appeared on CBS Sunday Morning, Fox television and the Journal Report on PBS.


He received a Bachelor of Science degree in communications in 1976 from Ohio University in Athens and pursued graduate studies in business administration at Ohio State University. He maintains a strong connection with Ohio University's Voinovich School for Leadership and Public Affairs.



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