This program acknowledges that there are three critical components necessary for a community to thrive: a strong economy, a clean and safe environment, and social equity. Just as the legs on a three-legged stool must be of equal length for the stool to be useful, a community must address and balance all three components to be a prosperous community. Only focusing on one component, to the neglect of the other two, typically causes problems that undermine the community’s prosperity. The environmental degradation that resulted from industrial activity in the 1950s, 60s and 70s is a testimony to the legacy left behind by imbalanced approaches to community development. In conjunction with other programs, OCES provides communities with training and resources to help them realize and maintain a balance among the environment, economy, and social equity.
Two Curriculums are Currently Under Development
Economic Impact of Conservation Funding
This is a curriculum designed to train local conservation district personnel in economic development analysis and provide them with economic impact reports of state and federal conservation dollars for their local districts. Strategic planning and/or group facilitation will also be used to initiate a community dialog and integrate conservation practices and environmental concerns into the local economic development process.
This curriculum seeks to empower communities by embracing entrepreneurship as more than just an economic development strategy but as a community culture. Entrepreneurship requires an acknowledgment and acceptance of risk, and the culture of a community largely impacts the tolerance of risk. Therefore, communities that have strong social networks, and other infrastructure in place, that mitigate an entrepreneur’s risk are likely to reap the benefits of an entrepreneurial community such as: an innovative and productive workforce, the commitment of locally-owned businesses, job growth, and local opportunities for young people.