Through a series of prosperity summits the National Association of Counties (NACo) has been encouraging counties to look within by using strategies focused on local assets and place-based economic development to help increase local wealth. As reported on Route Fifty:
This year, the National Association of Counties held five pilot County Prosperity Summits in Titus County, Texas; Shasta County, California; Scott County, Kentucky; Cheatham County, Tennessee; and Cape May County, New Jersey sharing the WealthWorks approach of using community assets to increase shared wealth.
The competitively chosen counties were all rural or midsized, and the summits brought their elected officials, small business owners and residents together to form relationships while discussing equitable development.
“One of the problems with our community, having grown up here, is we’ve gone through these cycles of boom and bust. Most of the economic development was based on resource extraction,” says Mike Dahl, former Redding, California, mayor in a NACo podcast on the summits. “Whether it’s gold during the Gold Rush days to mining for copper to logging and the timber industry, it’s just been up and down and unsustainable, and it’s a multi-generational phenomenon.
Shasta County’s summit, which Dahl attended, focused on making better use of the region’s natural assets—rivers, lakes, mountains and clean air—while ending cyclical poverty.