Takes a village to move region forward

Published 1:42 pm Saturday, April 6, 2013

by Warren Beale

Have you heard that old African proverb that says: It Takes a Village to Raise a Child?

Many who are parents relate to that message as we so depend on the Church, caregivers & babysitters, grandparents and other family members, teachers, neighbors, friends, and a whole host of characters in the job of rearing our children.

Well, as it relates to economic development, the premise is the same. It takes more than one group or one person’s effort to create a sustainable, prosperous, and effective economic development program. It takes the community.

Thankfully, we have a wonderful team of professionals who run the regional Franklin-Southampton Economic Development, Inc. group. That group also has a fantastic volunteer Board of Directors that manages policy, budgeting, and legislative affairs activities for the organization. FSEDI is led by President and CEO Amanda Jarratt. Members of the Board are E. Warren Beale Jr., Chair; Harrell Turner, Vice Chair; Brian Hedgepeth; Harriet Duck, Treasurer; Felicia Blow, Secretary; Brian Hedgepeth, Member. I’m proud to serve with this is a great group of individuals.

But from the vantage point of communication, FSEDI has been in need of support. With a lean staff, fully focused on business prospecting, small business growth and development, as well as marketing this region far and wide, there is little “on-staff” resource to assist in the all-important task of communicating regionally, what the organization is doing and where it needs help.

So in late 2012, the FSEDI Board of Directions called for the creation of a new sub-committee. That sub-committee is titled the Communications Committee. This group is charged with building a communications plan for FSEDI, assisting in communicating important messages to key regional stakeholders, and serving as “economic development ambassadors”. Members of the Communications Committee include: Ernest Claud, Harriet Duck, Joe Stutts, Mary Lilley, Tony Clark, Michael Clark, Teresa Beale, Amanda Jarratt, and Warren Beale. This group is chaired by FSEDI Secretary, Felicia Blow.

The group is passionate and is dedicated to ensuring that this community has a clear understanding of economic development and what it entails. Most importantly, this group is intent on seeking engagement and involvement by all from all elements of the community. This group has been busy working to build a presentation and white paper on the State of Economic Development to share with your civic groups. And Economic Development “town hall” meetings are on the short list of activities to be held in the coming months.

If you are interested in FSEDI coming to your meeting to review and discuss the State of Economic Development in our region, please email Becky Felts at bfelts@franklinsouthamptonva.com to schedule. You also may visit www.franklinsouthamptonva.com to join our new E-Newsletter distribution list.

We know that all the news isn’t great. We know that we need to grow jobs, build industry, and improve other areas of our infrastructure. But these things can’t be done without the involvement and engagement of all parties. This includes state and local officials; elected representatives; and YOU the citizenry of the region. Get involved. Learn about what’s going on. Offer your insights and opinions to help us move this wonderful region forward.

We have a good community. Through collective efforts, we can make our community and region GREAT.

Warren Beale is president of the Franklin-Southampton Economic Development Inc. He can be reached at ewbeale@manryrawls.com.