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Change difficult, but necessary for this countyPosted Friday, March 21, 2008, at 3:20 PM
It's tough to understand.
It's even more difficult to get on board with until you see some definite light at the end of tunnel signaling that this change will actually be a good thing today, tomorrow and in the long-term future.
That's where Greene County sits today.
We are sitting outside the tunnel looking in and wondering how to get to the other end of the tunnel of prosperity and economic opportunity.
In fact, the county that we love and call home has been hovering in that spot for several years while much of the region, state and nation zoomed past us in terms of economic growth and opportunity.
So what does a county -- like Greene County -- do?
We can sit here and lick our wounds and wonder why it all happened.
Or, we can do something about it.
That's where the change comes in.
I sat in on the kickoff meeting for Phase 1 of the HomeTown Competitiveness initiative Thursday.
Greene County is among nine communities in the state that has been accepted into this program.
Indiana HomeTown Competitiveness (IHTC) is a community economic development approach that focuses on people.
It is not a pie-in-the sky wish list of things we want, but can't have.
The goal is to access where a community is and to build on its current capacity to prosper and grow in the not-so-distant future.
The trick is to adapt and change and realize the way we have always done things is gone. We need to look at the world differently and learn how we can plug into its vast economic opportunities.
Ed Morrison, who's affiliated with the Purdue Center for Regional Development, spoke to the gathering of community residents and business leaders about catching the vision of what it will take to align Greene County for success in a changing business world.
He believes a rural county -- like Greene -- can succeed.
He says we have to promote open innovation over organizational and political boundaries.
He believes we have to go from our "grandfather's economy" to our "grandchildren's economy."
"We're talking about new ways of connecting people to opportunity," Morrison says.
This connection comes through high-tech opportunities made possible by the Internet.
The developing WestGate Technology Park is poised to lead such a march into a world of new opportunities.
Quality of life and cost of living is a key selling point for us.
You don't have to be in a big city to connect to customers and clients hundreds -- even thousands -- of miles away. A few keystrokes and mouse clicks can link us to economic gains.
Morrison believes we have to change the way we educate our children.
He thinks high schools need to be "re-invented" to stress business world needs in what he called STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education and career academies.
The first phase of the HTC initiative -- which ends June 30 -- is planning and part of that planning is a community survey.
Over the next four months the HTC process will assess the community and find ways to:
* Encourage our young people and young families to stay in the community.
* Encourage and support small business start-ups and entrepreneurship.
* Encourage Greene County's citizens to become more active in leadership roles.
* Encourage charitable giving to support local activities and family businesses to continue in the community.
The survey is available at the Greene County Foundation office, the Community Learning Center of Greene County at White River Valley High School, the Linton-Stockton Chamber of Commerce office and at the Greene County Cooperative Extension Service office.
The survey can also be accessed online at
What is needed is support, ideas and the work of the people in this community who are willing to connect the dots and close the triangles and realize that to grow Greene County has to change, even if it hurts.
Volunteer your time and talents.
We need to move forward, unified with no "invisible fence" barriers like the White River to hold us back.
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