When we ask ourselves, who makes economic development happen in our communities, the obvious answer seems to be volunteer members of local development corporations or the elected officials on city commissions and school boards. While these individuals are valuable to community growth, there are other people who need recognition, too, because we simply couldn't do it without them.
These people are citizens who see community improvements as a positive step, even when those improvements do not personally benefit them. They are the neighbors who are all for new soccer fields and walking trails or the town boosters who support the construction of new streets and buy from local businesses. Community minded citizens see the value in developing new areas dedicated to industrial, commercial and housing development.
People who support local improvements regardless of personal benefit are integral to community success. The projects may look different in each community, but every infrastructure improvement makes this region a more desirable place for businesses and families to locate.
Just as the communities of Lincoln and Minnehaha Counties are united to promote economic development, support area growth and cheer each other's successes, citizens 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, in our own communities, when one neighborhood improves, the whole town is a better place to live.
We still need dedicated volunteers who attend meetings and make tough decisions, but equally important are the citizens who find other ways to get involved and participate in the process. Contact your elected officials and let them know you support community growth. Speak to the volunteers who serve on your community's economic development corporation and chamber of commerce about what's happening in your hometown. By staying connected you may find new ways to serve your community which benefits everyone.
By Eric Pauli, President, Lincoln County Economic Development Association &
Mike Wendland, President, Minnehaha County Economic Development Association
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