In a nutshell…
What is Our Economy? It’s an initiative to rally Southwest NH behind a shared vision of economic prosperity and to chart a roadmap for how to make that vision reality. Here are the major components:
Interview stakeholders working across the regional economy to better understand strengths and weaknesses in different sectors.
- Compile, visualize, and synthesize economic data to contextualize interviews and inform strategy development.
- Weave together key findings from interviews and data analysis to develop a narrative profile of the regional economy. What story can we tell after listening to different stakeholders and evaluating a range of data sources?
- Create a library of funding and technical assistance resources. There are organizations and programs that can helps us meet our economic development goals. The library will provide another avenue for connecting with these potential partners.
- Develop a vision for future economic development that reflects the ambitions of regional stakeholders and that can serve as a statement to rally behind.
- Articulate goals and objectives to establish a strategic direction for regional economic development.
- Identify specific actions to advance goals and objectives. To the extent possible, actions should have a clear timeframe and a lead entity.
- Create a prioritized list of economic development projects within the region, either planned or underway. This list will help funders, technical assistance providers, and potential partners better understand what’s happening on the ground related to economic development and how individual projects fit within a regional framework.
- Develop a method for measuring progress. How do we know whether we’ve moved closer to achieving our vision?
Continue to connect with proponents of economic development projects to ensure they have the resources they need to take action.
Our Economy strives to facilitate an open economic development process that engages a wide variety of stakeholder groups. Different groups and organizations will participate with varying degrees of involvement, with some taking a leadership role throughout the process and others contributing perspective and insight at specific points along the way. The structure of participation might be best visualized as a series of concentric circles, with groups at the center serving to spearhead the process. Stakeholders in the surrounding rings represent the wide network of partners that will be crucial for developing a vision with broad buy-in and turning that vision into reality.
Why it matters.
Traditional economic development objectives like business recruitment and job creation can be critical contributing factors to a place’s economic well-being. Shared economic prosperity, however, depends on so much more. A thriving economy requires sound stewardship of a place’s natural resources. It relies on the ingenuity of a skilled workforce, and consequently, a high-quality education system. It’s driven forward by the innovation of entrepreneurs and small business owners. At its foundation is modern, well-maintained infrastructure like transportation networks, broadband, and public water service. The social connections among neighbors, civic groups, and other service-oriented organizations can impact whether a community overcomes economic challenges or struggles to do so. Fostering a dynamic, resilient economy hinges on all this and more.
Our Economy is an economic development planning initiative that aims to build common understanding about how all of these different factors affect the regional economy. It then aims to use that improved knowledge base to spark a regional discussion about where economic challenges exist, the goals we need to set to overcome those challenges, and the actions we need to take in order to achieve those goals.
Where is Our Economy?
Our Economy is a planning initiative that focuses on Southwest NH, as defined by the Southwest Region Planning Commission service area. SWRPC’s service area include 34 municipalities, including including all of Cheshire County, western Hillsborough County, and one community in Sullivan County. Research and analysis conducted as part of the initiative will also examine how economic conditions in Southwest NH compare with the state as a whole as well a neighboring regions including Windham County, Vermont, and Franklin County, Massachusetts.
A little history
Our Economy is the newest version of the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) for Southwest NH. The CEDS is a regional economic development framework promoted and supported by the U.S. Economic Development Administration. The CEDS has been a framework used in the Monadnock Region since 2005, when the first version of the plan was developed by Southwest Region Planning Commission in coordination with its Economic Development Advisory Committee (EDAC). The plan was adopted by SWRPC’s Board of Directors and approved by U.S. EDA. The document has since received targeted updates, including newly available economic data as well as priority projects within the region. Although the economic landscape has shifted substantially since the first CEDS was authored, it provides useful historical context for Our Economy. The most recently updated version of the plan can be found here.