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How to Support Economic Development in Your Community

Supporting economic development in your community is an effective way to increase the quality of life and foster creativity and growth. It gives hope, establishes avenues for exponential expansion and creates jobs.

If you want to do your part to boost the local economy, we’re here to help. We created this guide to provide local businesses with actionable ideas for building a sustainable future.

How Do You Support Your Community?

Here are some ways to support economic development in your community:

1. Find Ways to Generate Local Revenue

Building a strong economy is at the core of a healthy community, and there are several ways to achieve this. An exciting and fresh approach is joining a giving circle or society like the Cumberland Valley Alliance, which is a philanthropic tool focused on collaborating to leverage small amounts of money to make substantial contributions and cumulative impacts.

When you join the Alliance, 100% of your investment goes to economic development initiatives such as destination marketing, business advocacy and job creation. Plus, all membership tiers provide free entry to Cumberland Area Economic Corporation Alliance events, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to participate directly in fundraising and awareness efforts.

There are also many actions individuals can take to drive economic stimulation in their communities. Most people understand the value of shopping locally — we’ll discuss that in detail. However, one benefit that is often overlooked is banking locally. Banking locally means more money is circulating within the local economy. This creates wealth, encourages savings, and opens avenues to lend and invest in local businesses.

Another practical approach is by pledging to local funding initiatives. This giving is beneficial because most small businesses and local entrepreneurs cannot access capital. Local funding initiatives are ideal for small businesses with limited ability to secure funding.

2. Create Jobs and Entrepreneurship Opportunities

Local businesses and entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of the community. Thus, empowering them to grow and expand their businesses is one way to promote sustainability. Supporting locally owned businesses helps create jobs and keep money circulating within the community. But how do you do that?

First, provide training in leadership skills for young people. That helps you build a formidable foundation. You can also establish a network of experts to assist entrepreneurs with creating effective business plans and maintaining accurate financial accounting.

Second, shop locally. Ordering from large, established businesses may be tempting, but that sends money out of your community. Buying locally goes beyond occasionally purchasing a few items from local stores and then directing your attention back to the giant markets. It involves constantly patronizing local businesses. Shop local grocers to support local farmers and enjoy the fresh food from local gardens and farms, for instance.

Hire local people, help them grow their talents and invest in small businesses when the opportunity arises. That way, you build wealth for future generations while contributing to the community — a win-win.

3. Support Local Events, Artists and Tourism

Attending community events such as art fairs, farmers markets, and food festivals is a simple and effective way to touch many lives. Besides buying tickets and attending, you can share information on social media to let others outside your community access those events. Invite family and friends, volunteer at the events and make donations. Your purchases at these events then go directly into your local community to enhance the economy.

Concerts are a great example. While some artists gained exposure during the COVID-19 pandemic, others were drastically impacted. Most of these creatives had to find new ways to make a living and expand their craft. Artists who could not organize concerts, music festivals and meet-and-greets during that era lost out on revenue.

Concerts are trickling onto the calendars, and people are gathering in larger numbers to celebrate local talents. This is an opportunity to engage with other locals and support the craft of emerging artists.

At the same time, you can support local performing arts venues, from theaters and performance centers to restaurants, bars and cafes. These venues hire a variety of staff, and by purchasing tickets or otherwise patronizing these businesses, you help support local jobs.

Investing in your community goes beyond patronizing local businesses and events. Tourism helps bring in revenue from outside the community, which is essential for a thriving local economy. Cumberland Valley is home to many unique attractions, such as the country’s only museum dedicated to hiking, so there are plenty of opportunities to create a welcoming tourist experience.

Lodging is another excellent channel for generating tourism revenue. According to the Cumberland County Hotel Tax law, anyone providing sleeping accommodations for periods of fewer than 30 days in exchange for payment must collect a 3% tax from their guests. This classification includes hotels as well as individuals renting out their properties through services like Airbnb and VRBO.

Essentially, by attracting and welcoming tourists to stay in the area, you bring more revenue into the local economy and help offset taxes for local households.

4. Build Stronger Management Systems

Raising capital and supporting local businesses and talents are meaningful when they lead to long-term growth and sustainability. One way of ensuring consistent development is by establishing robust management systems. These systems increase the local businesses’ ability to access capital, attract and retain talent and respond resiliently to disasters and downturns. Strengthening management capacity is also central to implementing robust business models that support growth.

The vital areas to consider when training local entrepreneurs to strengthen their management capacity are:

  • Administration
  • Governance and ethics
  • Human resources management
  • Organizational management
  • Program management
  • Financial management
  • Financial sustainability
  • Project performance management
  • Leadership and team dynamics

Learn More From Cumberland Area Economic Corporation (CAEDC)

CAEDC is a nonprofit corporation founded in 2005 to leverage and promote Cumberland County’s economic development and tourism assets to create jobs, improve the quality of life and drive growth. Our programs support workforce and economic development within the county and surrounding areas.

CAEDC provides a variety of resources and services to businesses. Besides business funding, we help businesses through the various stages of growth. We can help you start, redevelop, relocate or expand your business. CAEDC can also assist you in marketing your tourism business and network. Contact us to learn more!

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