County Teams

The Growing Local Economies Team Pilot Project was designed to help build capacity for local economic development through community engagement, asset mapping, economic assessments, and collaborative planning. This approach, based on the Local Ownership and Import Substitute (LOIS) model, was developed in conjunction with author and GLE partner Michael Shuman.

The Growing Local Economies approach was piloted by teams in Elliott, Estill, and Owsley counties in eastern Kentucky. From October 2009 to August 2010, these community teams engaged in a 10-month process to learn and apply the specific locally-focused, community-based approach to economic development described above. The goals of the project were:

• Build capacity and stimulate dialogue about alternative approaches to economic development in eastern Kentucky.

• Develop the knowledge and skills necessary for the successful implementation of the LOIS approach.

• Complete a series of asset mapping exercises and other economic assessments for each county.

• Incorporate these assessments into county-level reports based on local economic development strategies and principles.

Team Activities

Under local leadership, each community engaged in the GLE project created a team of local volunteers who were eager to learn about new solutions to long-standing challenges in their communities. They attended multiple workshops to learn more about the Growing Local Economies approach. Specifically, the workshops helped the communities understand and assess their own local economies by gathering data from residents about the community's assets and resources. In between workshops, the local teams engaged their communities and attempted to develop a network of citizens who could support a process for moving forward based on the data they collected.

A milestone in this project was the creation of individual reports for each county showcasing the initiative and distilling the data. The GLE reports are very data rich. They contain a census profile, economic data, a detailed leakage analysis, and a detailed assessment of community assets. The asset assessment was carried out by the local teams as they created an inventory of their local businesses, their physical assets (both natural and built), and the skills and other assets of the residents in their communities.

Now that the communities have completed this initial phase of the GLE process, each has taken that knowledge and continued the work. With gained insight about their own local economies, each team has been able to identify new strategies to increase economic prosperity and promote their local business community.

To learn more about the Growing Local Economies Team Pilot Project, contact Evelyn Knight: eknight@uky.edu

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