THE CHAMBER OF commerce has been getting a flurry of phone calls and visits from companies and business principals interested in Carteret County, either to start a new business or to find property to develop. We’re, of course, thrilled to help bring commerce and jobs to the Crystal Coast.
With that thought in mind, the following was recently sent to me via email: David Ivan of Michigan State University researched over 300 small communities in 22 states and found that there are certain areas that are laying the groundwork for sustainable economic futures. These communities have moved beyond just attracting companies to attracting talent, moving from investments in physical infrastructure to investments in creative infrastructure- making the communities more attractive for people to live and work in.
Here are five key elements that differentiate communities experiencing economic success:
- Development of the entrepreneurial ecosystem: Create an environment where people want to do business and support entrepreneurs. Connect them to others in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Give them every chance to succeed. Fairfield, Iowa, has proven to be a leader in this regard. Their local newspaper includes a column that features a local entrepreneur; an Entrepreneur “Hall of Fame” at their high school inspires students to pursue their own business ideas; an extensive peer-to-peer mentoring program pairs successful entrepreneurs with start-ups to help them navigate local bureaucracy and potential landmines they might encounter.
- Human Investments Driving New Economy Growth: Successful communities recognize their vitality is dependent on new innovations, enhanced educational opportunities and strong human capital. Take advantage of our assets, like a strong community college and our own Young Professionals Network- Connect Carteret.
- Strong Social Capital: Cultivate a strong social fabric with relationships that are deep and durable over the long-term. Identify and engage community members to help craft and implement a long-term vision. It’s also important to extend citizen involvement the young members of our community. Research shows that young people who have fond memories of their hometowns are more likely to get involved and return to that town when they’re ready to settle down and raise their own families.
- Strong Quality of Place: Successful communities create vibrant environments where people want to be. Communities that embrace their assets are viewed as authentic places that tend to become regional destinations.
- Dedication to Progress: Repeatedly, the researchers found that successful, thriving and “cool” communities were proactive and determined to push forward, no matter how small the steps. Simple short term projects, as simple as planting flowers, can test concepts and build momentum for larger business development projects.
It takes a community to foster economic growth and business development. Developing relationships, partnerships and collaborative efforts are key in moving the ball forward. In many ways, Carteret County is already on the playing field and we’re seeing steady business growth and interest in the Crystal Coast.
Tom Kies, president
Carteret County Chamber of Commerce