Saturday, October 02, 2021
As the Dickinson County Economic Development Corporation (DKEDC) wraps up its new capital campaign, Driving Dickinson County, it provides me with an opportunity to reflect on what was accomplished during the first five-year campaign as well as consider what steps need to be taken to move forward on major issues like the need for housing, childcare, workforce, as well as others.
Yes, we met all of the goals of our first capital campaign but that would not have been possible without the help of all our investors, partners, affiliates, and volunteers. Thank you all!
To move forward, it is important to remember our past. Our communities were established around the railroads, cattle routes, and land to grow crops. Because of this, people moved to this area, built houses, raised families, established businesses, and created our downtowns. We must embrace this history and our present situation to rekindle the spirit of our ancestors and find ways to work together as people, businesses, organizations, and communities to move forward.
There is a lack of housing inventory almost everywhere, not just in Dickinson County. Our ancestors moved here for opportunities and built houses. What is that opportunity that will get builders to build houses so that people can move here and find their opportunity? DKEDC has been talking with housing developers and builders to get input on how to make our area attractive for them to consider building affordable homes that employees of our businesses are seeking and that people looking to move here are also seeking. This information is being shared with our cities and they have been brought into these discussions to determine how we might be able to encourage these developers and builders to begin building in Dickinson County. Others will be brought into these discussions as warranted to continue to move forward on new affordable housing starts.
In tandem with the need for housing, there continues to be a need for additional early childhood system expansion. Parents with children need to know that their children will be taken care of before considering moving to an area, looking for housing, and taking an opportunity to better their family. DKEDC, the County, childcare providers, and our schools have begun discussions on the issues that exist and how we can address these and move forward with early childhood system expansion.
As housing and early childhood solutions get developed, we can focus on our workforce, which put simply is just people. We need to begin discussing how to find people to take the opportunities that already exist with our current employers or how to provide people with an environment where they feel comfortable creating their own opportunities. DKEDC looks forward to working with our investors, partners, affiliates, and others to form a committee to work on people recruitment so our businesses can move forward.
While we are focused on housing, early childhood solutions, and people, we know that it is also important to discuss how we revitalize our downtowns, improve our quality of life, retain our existing businesses, develop an entrepreneurial ecosystem, and work on opportunities to recruit new businesses to our area. This will take time, volunteers, and a grassroots effort lead by passionate people with a desire to build consensus, overcome negativity, and get things done. Are you one of these leaders that is ready to move forward with your passion?
Finally, we want to say thank you to all of our manufacturing businesses during Manufacturing Day and throughout the month of October. Manufacturing is a key industrial sector in our area and the State making up over 15% of our Gross State Product. Thank you all for what you do for our communities and citizens.