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the path forward

 

Path through the TreesAppalachia is full of homegrown assets that can be harnessed to help build a stronger and more diverse economy that will work better for a broader range of people.

 

Many are working toward creating a new way forward. Growing more locally owned businesses, supporting effective existing and emerging leaders, and ensuring laid off workers have the help they need are some of those efforts. However, by themselves these and other efforts are not enough to produce the results we need because the challenges we face are deep and increasingly more difficult. 

 

We believe there are four ideas that will be particularly important to building an economy that creates more local wealth, creates good stable jobs and protects our environment.

 

Growing the Conversation — Solutions to hard problems will only emerge from hard conversations across lines we usually don't cross.

 

Creating a Vision — At every step, we have to ask what the people want and work toward that vision of a brighter economic future.    

 

Supporting Leaders — Existing and emerging leaders need support to grow and develop communities and regional efforts toward a broader vision.

 

Expanding Development Strategies — We believe there are four key strategies to grow and expand support for economic development that makes a greater difference. 

    Provide support for local enterprises and entrepreneurs through technical assistance, classroom-based training and access to start-up money.

     

    Grow key sectors like local foods, sustainable wood products, energy efficiency, health care and tourism.

     

    Provide workers with financial support, retraining and job-matching opportunities tied to growing sectors.

     

    Coal severance tax, local philanthropy and state and federal funds should be invested in infrastructure, education and development strategies.

Working toward building a sustainable economy in Appalachia is an urgent and long-term effort. Accepting hard truths about the current situation and seeking broad solutions should pave the road forward, and MACED looks forward to helping make Appalachia's bright future a reality.