First the bad news: The COVID health, economic and social wounds haven't begun to heal, will leave scars, and highlighted a lot of things that need fixing.
Here’s the good news: a cohesive community will come through COVID stronger than ever.
So what’s next?
There's no substitute for building strong communities at the local level.
Strong communities are created at the local level, not via the state or federal government. That’s the way it has always been. Entrepreneurs, business owners, ecosystem builders, educators, parents, community leaders, and concerned citizens solve problems.
Since launching in 2018, SEVENmile Venture Lab has seen groups of people with wildly divergent points of view come together to create new economic opportunities and stronger communities. The COVID pandemic has hobbled that sense of community because most people have had serious issues to deal with on a personal and family level.
In many countries, COVID is being controlled, while other countries are struggling to manage the rate of infections. As countries get infection rates under control they are in a position to focus on rebuilding communities through entrepreneurship and those efforts need to accelerate. In order to rebuild, communities need to focus their energy on designing their POST-PANDEMIC-ECONOMY.
That won’t happen because a politician orders it to happen. It will happen when economic developers and ecosystem builders create an environment to foster the growth of entrepreneurs who have a holistic vision of their community.
Communities need to look around for best practices and see what’s working.
A few years ago, American journalist James Fallows traveled across the United States to research if thriving communities—regardless of whether or not they were in a “red” or “blue” state—shared anything in common. They did. According to Fallows, successful communities share the following traits:
- They cast aside divisive national politics;
- They have “local patriots”;
- They have worked out that public-private partnerships are a fact of life;
- There is a “civic story”;
- They have thriving downtowns;
- They are near a research university;
- They have and care about a community college;
- They have innovative schools;
- They welcome new people into the community;
- They have a vision for where they want to get to.
Re-read that list. Is your community headed in the right direction?
If it is, don’t change course—but if it isn’t, you need to rethink your community-building and economic development strategy.
2020 won’t be the last time we're all challenged by a Pandemic.
COVID has stopped most communities in their tracks. Local, state and national economic performance has not just stalled, it's taken a massive downturn. Some economies are literally, "down for the count". But that doesn’t mean your community can't begin to bounce back.
Why? Because your community can choose to rise above the constraints inflicted by COVID.
We need to recognize that the world has changed permanently, and we need innovation and entrepreneurship to solve our problems.
Our greatest weapon is our community, our collective capabilities and willingness to pull together. It's important we look to the future and be strategic about training and developing the next generation of business leaders who will be the catalysts of sustainable growth.
Our community's visionary entrepreneurs want to build companies with holistic perspectives that help people realize their potential. They are building companies that recognize the contributions of the individual human beings who are the true engines of all successful companies and communities.
We don’t need anyone's permission to help entrepreneurs and ecosystem builders who have a compelling vision for their community.
How can we help visionary entrepreneurs succeed? By supporting programs that help create, train, and develop new entrepreneurs.
Communities need to start believing in themselves.
No matter their name or political affiliations, your federal leader can’t stop you and I from creating the POST-PANDEMIC-ECONOMY. A political leader cannot stop us from achieving our individual and collective potential.
The reality is that the hard work of building our POST-PANDEMIC-ECONOMY falls on the shoulders of local leaders, entrepreneurs, economic developers, and ecosystem builders. That’s a big job, and if you’re going to do a big job, first you need to believe that you can do that job.
Simply put: We need to stop blaming each other and start believing in ourselves and doing the work we need to do.
We need to start believing in each other.
People who look differently, pray differently, think differently, and vote differently are not our enemies. They are our neighbors, friends, family, innovators, business partners, employees, bosses, and our problem solvers. They are our partners and collaborators in building the POST-PANDEMIC-ECONOMY.
Do you want your community and ecosystem to move beyond politics and toward a bigger, better, and more compelling vision for local economies?
You can start by registering for Business Recovery 2020, a special five-workshop series to learn how you can develop an entrepreneur support strategy to rebuild, refresh, and restart local businesses and your community.
Political leaders do matter.
But so do starters, ecosystem builders, and economic developers. And so do you.