Regional economic development is a complex system with individual partners working together toward a common goal of prosperity, quality lifestyles and opportunity for every regional resident. It’s a linked process, with every level of society playing a part.
On the hometown level, the local school, city government and the community development corporation all have a vital role. County commissions interact with these local entities, and the regional economic development groups, LCEDA and MCEDA, coordinate economic development on a county-wide basis. Meanwhile, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and other state agencies are connecting with companies nationally and internationally, attracting new businesses and helping existing companies grow in our region and state.
It’s an effective system, as our regional growth over the last decade will attest. Our regional economic development structure functions like an eco-system, where each organization has a role in maintaining balance and continued success. If one element is removed, or is not working properly, the eco-system is weakened. Every link in the chain contributes to the success of the whole.
Our economic development eco-system relies on all the players recognizing their importance to our overall success and participating in that success. Every individual can be part of the system, whether by running for public office, organizing a local community development group or just asking, “What can I do to help?” Here are three ideas for making our regional economic eco-system stronger:
1. Connect. Check out local organizations to see where you fit in. Share your ideas and feedback with elected officials or attend city council meetings. Make the connections that will link you to your community in a personal way.
2. Coordinate. Don’t work in a silo—talk to your neighbors, share your knowledge and your determination to boost your town’s economy. Think about ways the groups in our community can share information with each other about what they are doing.
3. Cooperate. Put your shoulder to the community wheel and participate in any positive way you can. Every town in our area has opportunities to join in and cooperate with your neighbors. Invite others to participate; be engaging and welcome fresh perspectives.
We all have a role to play in keeping our economic eco-system strong. We share a mission and pride in our communities, our region and our state. Let’s work together to keep things growing!
By Nick Fosheim, Executive Director, Lincoln and Minnehaha County Economic Development Associations
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