Small Community Economic Development
Posted on 10/23/2019 at 09:00 AM by Dustin Ingram
Mobilizing a Regional Approach to Economic Development
In the economic development profession, it is generally accepted that regionalism can achieve a growing economy and enhanced quality of life. Partnering with other communities, approaching workforce issues with a view extending beyond municipal or county boundaries, and pooling knowledge and resources are often staples of regionalism. At the foundation of this approach, though, is the idea that we need to be better connected with one another. Knowing the opportunities, challenges, and assets in our neighboring communities—or simply knowing that our neighbors have similar wants and needs—often results in the creation of remarkable synergies to the benefit of all.
Story County includes the city limits of 14 communities. Among these cities, there are similarities, including a desire for thriving downtowns, quality housing, and economic growth, but there are also differences. They range significantly in population size, vary in geographical characteristics, and have unique histories that underlie community pride. At the Ames Economic Development Commission, we function with the understanding that a regional approach that yields to these similarities and differences is the key to success for our communities, and our partnerships with Story County, Ames, Nevada, Story City, and Huxley have resulted in efforts toward the full implementation of this economic development model.
A recent example of these efforts includes the Story County Economic Development Summit. This event, hosted in partnership with Story County, was the first attempt to bring together economic development stakeholders from all of our communities for education on tools and resources that they can use to enhance their cities. Topics included housing, economic development, small business and entrepreneurship, tax increment financing, and local success. Approximately 70 attendees, including elected leaders, city clerks, business owners, staff of non-profit organizations, developers, community volunteers, and utility representatives, attended the event. Most importantly, attendees interacted and networked with one another.
Attendance from all four corners of Story County reflects the interest of our communities to learn and work together toward the benefit of our economy. Their participation demonstrates an understanding of the weight that establishing new relationships brings to economic development. We believe that this energy and interest in taking a regional approach signals a new, promising period of even greater collaboration within and among our communities.
Categories: Growing Business