I’ve been looking forward to doing and sharing this interview since back before I started podcasting – and the timing couldn’t be better, because this community just won the American Planning Association’s National Planning Achievement Award for Innovation in Economic Planning and Development!
I haven’t had a front –row seat for Clinton County, Ohio’s struggles and comeback over the past few years, but most of the time I’ve been watching from the wings beside clients and friends. When international freight carrier DHL decided to end domestic US operations in 2008, more than 9,000 people in Clinton and surrounding counties lost their jobs – and the impact could only be termed a disaster. With few other immediate economic options and very few other large employers within driving distance, Clinton and its county seat, Wilmington, turned into a poster child for the Great Recession.
But after the parade of celebrities (ranging from Glen Beck to Rachel Ray) and the national media go home, how does a community pull itself together and figure out how to move on? And how do you protect your community from facing a blow like that ever again?
In this interview, Chris Schock and Taylor Stuckert tell the story of how their organizations are helping Clinton County address that question. By focusing on a five-part strategy designed to keep spending local and grow local business sales and expertise, their two organizations – the Clinton County Regional Planning Commission and the nonprofit Energize Clinton County – are changing the county, and (as Chris will describe), demonstrating measurable success. And they’re changing it in ways that will have incredible long-term impacts – on money, and on the people who live there.
Here’s a couple of the great things that the Clinton County folks have done:
- Redefined “Buy Local” to an intelligent system of being conscious about your purchasing choices — and supporting tiers of Local, not just giving up when what you need isn’t in your ZIP code.
- Empowered businesses to work as an ecosystem through internet tools and old-fashioned network-building.
- Came up with a meaningful way to encourage young professionals to return to a rural community by directly embedding them in businesses that need their skills and expertise.
- Redefined energy choices and energy efficiency as a local economy issue — about getting better mileage from the community’s limited dollars
- As Taylor says, the biggest impact may fall on the psyche: a growing belief that local residents have ownership of their local economy again.
These guys couldn’t be more poster children for a Wise Economy if they tried.
If you care about places and you want to see what meaningful community revitalization looks like, pour a cup of coffee and sit back for a great conversation. Let me know what you think, and if you know of other stories like this, I’d love it if you’d send em my way. Thanks.