7 Economic Development PR Trends for 7 Industries in 2024

February 09, 2024
Woman sitting at a table looking at a computer with her golden retriever sitting next to her.

Keeping up on the economic development trends in 2024 across every industry is nearly impossible—but that’s what we’re here for, of course.

Check in on these seven industries to see what trends are on our radar—and reporters’ minds as you develop your 2024 economic development media strategy. Look for opportunities to tap into the national news cycle and secure positive earned media coverage that showcases how your location is helping meet the needs and challenges of these seven key industries.

1. Aerospace: Short on Labor, Showcase Talent

In 2023, aerospace companies and workforce data reinforced labor shortage concerns. With private space launches and safety concerns in the skies—remember the Chinese spy balloon? —it’s an important time to reinforce your community’s assets to attract aerospace companies.

Promote programs bolstering and diversifying your community’s aerospace and aviation talent pipeline.

2. Agriculture: Aging Workforce, Foreground Innovation

Workers in the agricultural industry are aging quickly. In fact, the average U.S. farmer’s age is 57.5 years, and one in three farmers is 65 or older. The number of people employed as farmers is also shrinking as the number of farms across the U.S. continues to decline. The tally of farms globally is predicted to be cut in half as the average size of farms doubles. Add this turmoil to record-breaking temperatures and droughts that have damaged crop yields. 

There are opportunities here for economic developers to angle their community’s assets. They can do this by building more sustainable farming and food production methods, such as vertical farming, soilless agriculture and the implementation of drone technologies. These are the stories to share to gain the attention you need.

3. Commercial Real Estate: Office Slump, Reinvigorate Downtowns

Remember offices? Many workers are happy to forget them as the office market continues its slump. Commercial real estate is hampered by difficulties enticing workers back to offices, and the trickle-down effects continue to impact central business districts.

Cities with innovative solutions to these challenges, like New York City, are leaning into “office-to-residential conversions,” and colleges are snatching up unused office space. Show businesses the advantages of moving into your community with forward-thinking stories and incentives.

4. Housing: Crisis Continues, Share Good News

Throughout 2023, cities struggled with a nationwide housing crisis, and economic development trends in 2024 show no sign of it easing. With a prolonged shortage of affordable housing in cities nationwide, young families are struggling to live in major urban centers and downtown residential areas. And let’s not even talk about how climate change affects housing infrastructure. 

These challenges are PR opportunities for U.S. cities to show how they’re rising to the occasion to confront issues surrounding shortages and affordability. Furthermore, they provide support to legacy residents, newcomers and citizens without homes.

5. Life Sciences: Scarce Labor, Highlight Tech Solutions

Giant leaps in healthcare recently involve implementing technologies, such as AI and wearable tech to improve patient care.  Moreover, these solutions and turning to gig platforms to fill roles are ways to tackle worker shortages in the health industries. But alone, they won’t solve the issues of talent attraction for the healthcare industry. 

Innovative solutions and campaigns will be required to move the needle forward, and destinations keeping humans at the forefront of healthcare will undoubtedly catch the media’s attention, too. 

While workers are scarce, investment isn’t, as pharmaceutical companies are spending a lot to aid in the development of groundbreaking treatments to treat diseases like sickle cell disease. The media wants uplifting stories about these advances, which will also help attract businesses looking to expand and align with the advances happening in their fields.

6. Supply Chains: Crumbling Infrastructure, Offer Green Solutions 

During 2023, infrastructure and supply chains suffered, according to one October report that showed how U.S. rail container and trailer volume was down more than 9% compared to the previous year. However, the supply chain is a story of hope. In November, the Biden Administration announced new actions to strengthen America’s supply chains across critical sectors, such as the pharmaceutical industry.

Take advantage of these announcements to demonstrate how your community is making inroads toward better infrastructure, to encourage investors and businesses. For example, stories about greener transportation, energy transition, and electric vehicle implementation will attract significant attention throughout 2024.

7. Tourism: Spending Wavers, Partner with DMOs

Finally, the travel industry is still rebounding from the pandemic, and travel budgets have declined due to inflation, high-interest rates and newly restarted student loan payments. However, despite concerns, excitement for travel remains high, with some data suggesting that 50% of Americans plan to travel more in 2024 than in 2023, with 90% planning to travel.

There’s an excellent opportunity for EDOs and DMOs to work together to achieve shared PR goals. For example, partnering to amplify awareness around assets that appeal to both visitors and prospective talent, like the arts! Find ways your community is overcoming the newest challenges facing the tourism industry to get businesses and the media looking your way.

Interested in learning more about how to align your economic development public relations efforts with the trends marking key industries in 2024? Get in touch with Caitlin Teare at [email protected] to learn how DCI’s 60+ years of placemaking can help. 

Written by

Caitlin Teare

Vice President, Public Relations