Nevada’s Stronger Economies Together (SET) Regional Team members met one last time Nov. 28 in Fallon, Nevada, to unveil the “Western Nevada Blueprint for Economic Development,” a plan that set goals to develop five targeted economic sectors for a 33,000-square mile region of Nevada across nine counties, involving more than 200 people.
The 75 people who met in good cheer that morning at the beautiful old Oats Park Art Center, had a lot to celebrate. They knew their region’s assets, they understood the barriers to growth, and they were starting to understand how working collaboratively benefits them all.
If it seems like a lot to do in nine months, yes, it was.
To me, there were three factors that made the Western Nevada Blueprint for Economic Development so successful:
1) A lack of individual financial resources. This helped drive desire to succeed together. It might have been the stick that drove many to drive up to six hours once a month for a five-hour training/planning meeting. Recent changes in the State to redirect economic development funding toward regional economic development groups didn’t hurt either.
2) A strong and diverse executive committee. The policy setting body for the Nevada SET included a remarkable group of individuals--one of the best economic data professionals in the country – Dr. Tom Harris, Director of the University of Nevada Center for Economic Development; Western Nevada Development District (WNDD) staff committed to grassroots community planning; Cooperative Extension staff and facilitators; the Governor’s Office of Economic Development rural coordinator; and USDA Rural Development Nevada State Director Sarah Adler, whose passionate approach to meaningful curriculum and community development is something to behold (watch the video, see for yourself).
3) The WNDD SET training/planning and Comprehensive Economic Development Strategic (CEDS) planning occurred together. This was the carrot that kept the area’s Economic Development Authorities and regional team members engaged. With a CEDS, these team members knew they could apply for a number of new grants and loans once the plan was complete.
It was these three factors, together with the SET Regional Team members’ willingness to engage that made this planning process so exciting—and successful.
And engage they did. With the plan announced, the strategic doing began at the unveiling. In just 40 minutes, workgroups went to work on goals, outlining next steps, setting up meeting dates.
I hope this key group of 50+ individuals will continue to work together and grow into leadership roles, compete effectively for regional funds, and meet quarterly to assess results. In the grand scheme of things, it’s the SET Team’s willingness to engage that has made all the difference for the last nine months, and hopefully that spirit will continue to make a difference throughout this region for years to come.