NACo recently released a new podcast focusing on economic diversification and transition in coal-reliant communities. Due to the recent downturn in the coal industry, communities that have been economically reliant on the coal industry for generations are facing severe challenges and uncertainty.
In 2014, NACo formed a partnership with the U.S. Economic Development Administration and the National Association of Development Organization Research Foundation to assist county and regional leaders in places seeking new approaches to economic development. This partnership launched the Coal-Reliant Communities Innovation Challenge , the centerpiece of which was three training workshops held in 2015 in Kentucky, Colorado, and West Virginia. These team-based training workshops provided counties and regions with technical assistance to create strategies for economic diversification and job creation.
This podcast highlights innovative approaches to economic diversification that developed from this program, and features three communities that are implementing strategies to diversify local and regional economies. The podcast participants include:
- Erik Pages, President of EntreWorks Consulting, joins the podcast to discuss national trends in economic diversification and identify common community strategy themes.
- Duane Miller, Deputy Director of LENOWISCO Planning District Commission(VA), outlines how Wise County, Va., is focusing on developing an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle industry cluster.
- Sandi Curd of the Kentucky Highlands Promise Zone describes Harlan County, Ky.’s plan to focus on critical infrastructure, including preparing for broadband development.
- Katelin Cook, Economic Development Director for Rio Blanco County, Colo., discusses the county’s proactive strategies around branding and recreation; downtown revitalization; and broadband development.
More resources for any community–not just coal-reliant communities–interested in diversifying and transitioning economies can also be found at the new web portal developed through these efforts: www.diversifyeconomies.org