By Nathan Davis, Director of Rural Development
One of the most popular buzz words in development right now seems to be sustainability. Sustainable energy, sustainable buildings, sustainable agriculture; sustainability, particularly of the environmental variety, touches on every aspect of life.
While the emphasis on the environmental definition of sustainability is important and useful, the scope of sustainability is much more broad. The term defines any actor or process that ensures resilience against internal and external changes. Given the constant changes that occur to individuals, businesses, and communities in Greater Peoria, sustainability should be a consideration of every decision.
As the new Director of Rural Development at the Greater Peoria EDC, I have been traveling to rural communities across Greater Peoria to learn more about the processes our communities go through to become more sustainable. From these visits, I have identified that sustainable communities forecast their problems, create plans to face those challenges, and, most importantly, put those plans into action.
Forecasting future needs is essential to any planning process, and the future needs of rural communities in Greater Peoria are various and diverse. From business development, to infrastructural changes, to staffing needs, rural communities must not only deal with the problems of today, but have the foresight to understand the needs of the future.
Once problems have been identified, communities can choose to deal with them immediately, or take the time and effort necessary to create a sustainable plan for the future. Resilient communities choose to plan. They outline preparation and response efforts to disasters within emergency plans. They support their entrepreneurs and businesses through development plans. Sustainable infrastructural developments are prepared for via comprehensive plans. Sustainable communities take the time to develop a collective vision of the future and create a practical path to get there.
However noble the goals of a plan are, plans are only as valuable as the paper they are printed on if they are not put into action. Sustainable communities hold themselves accountable to their plans by evaluating their own development. By leveraging individuals and organizations within their community, these communities create positive change and complete their plans. Furthermore, utilizing external resources enables communities to enhance their planned development.
Fortunately, the Greater Peoria EDC has resources available to help with the forecasting, planning, and action necessary to develop sustainable communities. We can help forecast problems through data tools and services and are capable of utilizing resources to identify a community vision and create a sustainable plan for both the short and long term. Most importantly, we can build your community’s capacity to solve problems by identifying workforce solutions, locating business development and procurement options, and building community organizational capacity.
If you are interested in learning more about how the Greater Peoria EDC can help make your rural community more sustainable, contact Nathan Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org