Now that it’s September, we shift our focus to local school systems and the role they play in our communities. While sporting events and academic goals take center stage throughout the area, it’s important to remember that our schools are also vibrant partners in economic development, impacting our regional economy and shaping our future.
1. Schools are key employers. In many communities, the local school district is a major job provider, with an annual payroll that supports community businesses and housing construction. And as the district grows, so does the number of new jobs being created—and the number of new families who move to town.
2. Community growth is tied to local schools. A solid school system, with growth expressed in rising enrollment numbers and new school buildings, attracts people and says something powerful about a community. In our region, we have experienced school district growth. That growth becomes a reason people relocate to our hometowns—and a source of pride to everyone in the community.
3. Schools bring people together—and not just at volleyball and football games. An expanding school district requires community consensus and hometown meetings to talk about the future. Neighbors exchange ideas about ways to make the school better and share the experiences their children and grandchildren are having in our schools.
4. As visible signs of the future, our schools remind us of the need for economic development and community growth. Those first graders of today will be the employers, the parents and the taxpayers of tomorrow. We must inspire the workforce of tomorrow and recognize that their success is our success when we help them achieve educational goals that become life goals. It’s a strong incentive for all of us.
As we see those school buses in the morning and afternoon, let’s remember that they are carrying the future of our community, our region and our state. Schools are the economic development partners that focus our attention on the future, while making our communities better today.
By Nick Fosheim, Executive Director, Lincoln and Minnehaha County Economic Development Associations
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