When it comes to rejuvenating an urban community, expert opinions will often cite a variety of political, social and economic ills that range from the need for education reforms, infrastructure investments, improved racial equality and political reforms among many critical leverage points. Adding citing lighting is not something that leapst to mind. however Detroit has accomplished a milestone on its way to its goal of urban revitalization by doing just that. Read more about the city of Detroit’s latest success here.
Does rural economic growth differ depending on where you are or are the principles applicable everywhere? Last week I trotted up to Ontario to visit our neighbors to the north and begin an informal survey of some local communities in southern Ontario that include nearby First Nation communities. Does rural development, economically-speaking look the same as it does States-side? What constitutes sound, sustainable rural development for a community such as Atikokan for example? Is it different for this tiny rural town, nestled in the rugged, timber-covered lands on the northern boundary of Quetico Provincial Park in southern Ontario than one of its First Nation neighbors such as Seine River? Are they both dependent upon the tourism industry to bring visitors and their purchasing power or is the key to economic development the extraction of precious metal mineral resources such as gold deposits identified just 23 km north of Atikokan in 2009? Or does it come from Canadian provincial government intervention programs such as RED(LINK) to create entrepreneurship via local partnerships in technology, social enterprise and cultural? Is there a happy medium? What avenues exist for geographically-isolated First Nation communities such as Seine River with limited local assets such as a health center, education facility and a community center? This survey will look to tease out key factors in the coming months that these local communities can leverage to revitalize and strengthen their local human capital to link to regional and national economic growth and ultimately answer the question of what works best in rural economic development for these isolated communities?
I sat in on a webinar, Creating Green Jobs for Low-Income Individuals in late March on green job creation at the base of the pyramid (hosted by Jason Friedman, Friedman & Associates) and I was pleasantly surprised. I am a public skeptic (and a closet-optimist!) when it comes to green enterprises and green economy which seems to need subsidies and lots of public goodwill to make a go of it in today’s competitive business world. Green enterprises are nice to talk about but will they ever be profitable and achieve a dent on local economies or create local wealth for communities? Cue two community development non-profits, on opposite coasts of the US that are profitable, create local jobs, serve a substantial client base, and reverse environmental degradation. Too good to be true? Terry McDonald, Executive Director, of the St. Vincent de Paul Society (SVDP) in Lane County, Oregon (near Eugene) doesn’t think so. And he should know because SVDP serves 84,000 clients yearly and hosts no-less than 3 profitable green businesses. One of SVDP’s businesses, a recycled glass company, Aurora Glass realized approximately $1 million US in total yearly sales and employs 25 staff. On the opposite coast, Greater Bridgeport Community Enterprises, Inc. (GBCE) works to create profitable green enterprises in the local communities of Bridgeport, CT. Adrienne Farrar Houëll, Executive Director explains that GBCE launched The Green Team, an environmentally-friendly construction company and Park Green, a mattress reclamation and recycling company less than a year ago. Although in relative infancy, the two green enterprises have already created a total of 33 new jobs in the green sector. GBCE intends to build upon these accomplishments with the goal of creating 100 new jobs in 2-3 new green profitable businesses over the next 4 or 5 years. My skepticism for sustainable green enterprises continues to erode as I watch them grow!