|For years we have heard, seen, and felt the tension between our rural and urban communities. That tension has been amplified across political, social, and economic spectrums. You can read great data insights about the economic polarization of our communities in the 2018 release of the Economic Innovation Group’s Distressed Communities Index Report.
The report states “prosperous communities were overwhelmingly suburban in nature” and that whereas all communities felt the pain of the recession, “the recovery has widened the gaps between American communities,” as distressed communities have yet to economically recover; if they ever will.
Thankfully, in North Carolina, we are not content to write off 80% of our counties, home to over four million of our fellow citizens.
That esprit de corps was on full display at The Institute for Emerging Issues (IEI) ReCONNECT Rural and Urban Forum earlier this week. 500+ attendees from all corners of the state converged in Raleigh to share and learn from one another on how we can better connect and appreciate our diverse communities.
Speakers included a range of political (Governor Roy Cooper), chambers of commerce and related economic development organizations, community health systems, and philanthropic leaders. One of my favorite quotes came from the president of the Danville Regional Foundation who said: “Communities that are without hope, shall not prosper” – Karl Stauber.
If I had a ‘complaint’ it would be that there wasn’t enough discussion on the unifying capacity for entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs are leaders in their communities, usually crossing bridges or divides out of necessity. They quietly lead by example, creating the jobs and tax base that strengthen the social fabric of their communities.
That being said, I am looking forward to IEI’s next forum on October 15th in Charlotte, with a focus on job creation … a topic, I am told, well served by entrepreneurship.
President & CEO
NC IDEA FOUNDATION