|Apr 01, 2011 --
Outline Of Need:
Rural America is realizing that to be competitive, smaller communities must work together as a coordinated region to develop comprehensive, collaborative economic development strategies appropriate for the resources available in their unique region.
How Rural Development Helped:
Missouri was one of eight states chosen to implement the Stronger Economies Together (SET) curriculum. Two regions were selected in Missouri to participate in the SET program. USDA Rural Development in Missouri coordinated efforts with University of Missouri Extension in the delivery of a new economic development curriculum aimed at spurring regional economic development efforts in rural America.
The two regions selected are: Lake of the Ozarks Regional Economic Development consisting of Camden, Miller and Morgan Counties; plus Old Trails Regional Tourism Partnership consisting of Carroll, Chariton, Clay, Cooper, Howard, Jackson, Lafayette, Ray and Saline Counties.
A total of 327 participants have been engaged in seven training sessions and devoted approximately 1,635 hours of volunteer time to work together in creating the basis of a coordinated regional economic development .
Don Borgman, President of Old Trails Regional Tourism Partnership states, “I think the most remarkable thing about the Old Trails Regional Tourism Partnership is that a group of individuals have out of their own initiative and drive created a vision and from that vision have developed a plan that will support economic development in this region for years and generations to come. This is a grassroots initiative in the purest sense. What our organization really provides is a structure and a blueprint for individuals, businesses, organizations, supportive partners and anyone interested can work together to promote economic development through tourism. SET benefited us by helping to formalize that needed structure on which to build. SET helped us pour the foundation and helped us start on the structure.”
Because of the enthusiasm shown by the participants in the two Missouri SET regions, the concept of “regionalism” is also drawing increased interest from community leaders across the state.
This program highlights President Obama's belief that small remote rural communities don't have to be stand-alone economic engines but can partner together on a regional basis for sustainability.