Who drives community development and economic growth in our communities? An obvious answer could be the volunteer members of the local development corporation or the elected officials in city government or school boards. While these individuals are vital to community growth, the fact is that all of us can be an economic development partner.
Citizens who see every community improvement as a benefit for their hometown are among the best partners. These are the neighbors who are all for new soccer fields and walking trails. They support the maintenance of existing infrastructure and spend money in local businesses and see the value in developing new areas dedicated to industrial, commercial and housing development.
People who support local improvements regardless of personal benefit are the real keys to community success. Each community has its own local projects—including enhanced streetlights, bike paths and swimming pools—but those projects all work collectively to make this region a more desirable place for businesses and families to locate.
Just as the communities of Lincoln and Minnehaha Counties have banded together to promote economic development, supporting area growth and cheering each other’s successes, people do the same in every town. Community leaders understand that prosperity benefits the entire region—not just the town that got the latest project. Similarly, when one part of town improves, the whole town benefits. The old saying, “the rising tide lifts all boats,” is as true in communities as it is in counties.
We still need dedicated volunteers who attend meetings and make tough decisions. Equally important, however, are the people who find other ways to get involved and participate in the process. Contact your elected officials and let them know you support community vitality. Speak to the volunteers who serve on your community’s economic development corporation and chamber of commerce about the issues, events and developments in your hometown. By staying connected, you may find new ways to serve your community and be an economic development partner.
By Nick Fosheim, Executive Director,
Lincoln and Minnehaha County Economic Development Associations
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