I have the honor to be a full scholarship participant in the 23rd North Carolina Rural Center’s REDI Program. REDI, Rural Economic Development Institute, is a program designed to “equip rural leaders to be catalysts for positive change in rural communities. The program offers a comprehensive model of rural economic development in which gains are equitably shared across the community. The program shows how, through inclusive planning processes, diverse groups can combine their multiple strengths and complementary perspectives to create a common future based on sustainable growth”, as stated by the NC Rural Center.
Last Wednesday through Friday, I had the opportunity to be in Raleigh for the first three of our nine sessions. Over the first three sessions, as a group, we explored each attitude and definition about economic development and leadership development, major social and economic conditions and trends that define rural North Carolina, the Building Blocks of Economic Development and so much more. While I wish I had the time and space to discuss each aspect that we studied over the first three sessions, there is one point that I knew but had not truly explored. As we were discussing the four building blocks of economic development, I realized that regardless of one’s profession, age, culture, hobbies, etc, we are all a part of economic development for Sampson County.
The Four Basic “Building Blocks” for Economic Development consists of: Business Development, Workforce Development, Physical Infrastructure, and Social & Civic Infrastructure.
Business Development is about creating and sustaining profitable enterprises that provide quality jobs in rural North Carolina. A quality job is categorized as one that provides compensation in the form of wages, salaries, or benefits that are acceptable for employees, their families, and their community in a working environment that is safe, challenging, and fair. Second, we discussed Workforce Development which consists of two major goals: providing the knowledge, skills, and supports that enable individual workers to reach their potential and support their families and two, build a skilled labor force that meets the needs of employers and the economy. The third building block we discussed was Physical Infrastructure, which is the tangible foundation required for economic development. The building block includes transportation systems, water and sewer distribution, collection and treatment systems, solid waste facilities, energy systems such as natural gas, electricity, and telecommunications capacity. Lastly, we discussed Civic and Social Infrastructure which refers to the way a community provides for meeting basic needs and the way it includes and enables its diverse groups to participate in the process of economic, social, cultural, and political development.
While I did not go in depth for any of these building blocks, the concept reiterated to me that each of us play a huge role in the economic development, whether purposefully or not. Each manager or business owner assists with business development. The school systems, our community college, teachers, mentors, and each person that has a positive impact in the lives of others, helping prepare them for their future, is a part of workforce development. For physical infrastructure, each business and employee that assists with building buildings, working on water lines, providing energy and more is involved with economic development. Lastly, civic and social infrastructure consists of each social group, civic club, volunteer, faith based organization, recreation and others, again, each a part economic development.
Therefore, as you go forward each day, I encourage you to understand how your everyday life and involvement affects and assists with economic development in Sampson County. Ask yourself, how can I continue to leave an economic footprint. Get involved with the programs and events that have such impact because, together, we can make a difference.
If we, at the Chamber, can be of assistance to you, your business, or organization, please visit www.clintonsampsonchamber.org or give us a call at 910-592-6177.