Keep It Local For Maximum Success

Posted on December 3, 2013

Dakota Resources
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The Governors Office of Economic Development, regional planning districts and statewide organizations like Dakota Resources are all working for the cause of economic development. Why, then, do we need local committees? Shouldn’t economic development be left in the hands of professionals?

The fact is that when community development succeeds in a community like ours, it is usually because of the work of a local economic development group. And while professional economic development officials on the state and county level are helpful in connecting programs with people, without the local component our community will simply not have the spark it needs to grow.

So, given the vital importance of a local development organization, what makes these groups successful, and what do they do to keep things moving in a positive, prosperous direction?

1.         Local groups understand their communities. The members of the organization represent not only the business community, but our educators, religious groups and service clubs. They talk with their neighbors and know, from personal experience, where the community wants to go—and why.

2.         Local organizations are never self-serving. If you have a private agenda or a personal ax to grind, you have no place on a group dedicated to community growth. These groups have a commitment to doing what is best for the whole town—knowing that every progressive action may not benefit their individual businesses, neighborhoods or personal situations.

3.         Local development committees are patient. Economic development is a process. People who join the local economic development group thinking they will “get something going right now” usually burn out quickly, simply because they don’t understand that community development takes time, effort and patience. Good things come to communities that work hard—and wait.

4.         Local groups have their eyes on the future. Local organizations can have short term goals, like improving the streets, building a new swimming pool or encouraging housing construction, but they are never short-sighted. The actions of today’s committee may bear fruit for the next generation—and that’s just fine for the forward-looking local people who make economic development happen in our community!


Tips for Community Engagement

Points of Light Blog asked questions about what makes a group of people a community and what is it about a community of people that makes them successful as a group of volunteers? In addition to step by step tips, this site gives a long list of hands-on activities ranging from “Be a Leader” to “Recruitment Strategies.”

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