Long-Term Economic Development Builds on Communities’ Existing Assets
Thursday, September 05, 2013
Organizations like The Ford Foundation have found significant, measurable results reducing poverty through direct community action and careful impact tracking. The foundation developed a program called Wealth Creation in Rural Communities – Building Sustainable Livelihoods (now WealthWorks), which is documenting significant results on the ground in three of the highest poverty regions in the country – Central Appalachia, the Deep South, and the Lower Rio Grande Valley in Texas.
WealthWorks is a toolkit that can be used by any community to connect its assets, meet market demand and build livelihoods (my organization, Yellow Wood Associates, is on the management team.) These on-the-ground organizations work in different sectors, including agriculture, forestry, energy efficiency, biofuels, and green affordable housing, but share a common approach and commitment to long term results. A similar organization, the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development (MACED), in Appalachian Kentucky, promotes and implements energy efficiency in coal country. The results of their work show the potential broad benefits of this methodological approach to long term improvement.