Community has a big role to play in economic development

With leadership and direction, a shared love of Hope can be a powerful and compelling tool

Tammy Shields

Contributor

One of my favourite and most called upon quotes is: “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.”

Such simple words, but so meaningful. It is particularly true when it comes to the health of our community; it is so easy to complain, but much more difficult to come up with – and then to be willing to put in the requisite time, effort, and dedication to put to action – positive strategies, or solutions to the problems. But, to again call upon another one of my most trusted sayings, “many hands make light work.”

What does this mean in terms of economic development? What role does the community play?  According to the web-based encyclopedia site, Wikipedia, “economic development generally refers to the sustained, concerted actions of policymakers and communities that promote the standard of living and economic health of a specific area.” So yes, policymakers have a role to play in economic development, but so do communities, i.e. the residents.

So what roles do individual residents really play? We all know that a community’s residents are its best salespeople. But more than that, even though not everyone will run for office, all community members have a role to play in the local story. Below is a list of community roles that I found published in an online publication by the Harvard Business Review.

Eighteen roles critical to a community’s function, preservation, and evolution:

• Mentor: Teaches others and shares expertise

• Learner: Enjoys learning and seeks self-improvement

• Back-Up: Acts as a safety net for others when they try new things

• Partner: Encourages, shares, and motivates

• Storyteller: Spreads the community’s story throughout the group

• Historian: Preserves community memory; codifies rituals and rites

• Hero: Acts as a role model within the community

• Celebrity: Serves as a figurehead or icon of what the community represents

• Decision Maker: Makes choices affecting the community’s structure and function

• Provider: Hosts and takes care of other members

• Greeter: Welcomes new members into the community

• Guide: Helps new members navigate the culture

• Catalyst: Introduces members to new people and ideas

• Performer: Takes the spotlight

• Supporter: Participates passively as an audience for others

• Ambassador: Promotes the community to outsiders

• Accountant: Keeps track of people’s participation

• Talent Scout: Recruits new members.

Although recent opinion sharing suggests some clear disagreement between individuals and groups in the community as to proper municipal management strategies, one thing is even more evident: people love Hope.  This is the thing that unites us. With leadership and direction, this shared love of our community can be a powerful and compelling economic development tool.  I encourage you all to think about the role(s) you have to play in Hope’s future and I invite you to be part of the change.

Visit www.AdvantageHOPE.ca or our Facebook page to stay up to date on information and activities we are engaged in to build community and prosperity in Hope.

Tammy Shields is executive director of AdvantageHOPE, Hope’s economic development agency. AdvantageHOPE can be reached at 604-860-0930 or info@advantagehope.ca

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