Our Path Forward
Last week, a friend and colleague wrote me about George Floyd’s killing and its aftermath. She offered a different quote by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. than we referenced in our last Vantage Point, and reminded me that his “messages around economic justice are often overlooked, yet inseparable from social justice solutions.”
Valley Vision is a “triple bottom line” organization, which is a wonky way to say that we hold three co-equal priorities in our work: equity, the economy, and the environment. Our work strives to balance the interconnections between these three priorities, and recognizes that they are inseparable from each other.
In late May, Valley Vision and three partners launched “Our Path Forward: The Prosperity Strategy,” which is our region’s first intentionally inclusive economic development strategy. The strategy resulted from the findings of the 2018 Brookings Institution report, which made clear the entrenched inequities in our communities – people who are disadvantaged by income, education, employment, connectivity, and opportunity. These inequities cut predominantly along lines of race and ethnicity, and also exist across and within urban and rural communities.
It was clear, in the Brookings report, that even as we seek a strong and healthy economy built on our existing strengths, ensuring that opportunity is truly available to all is absolutely imperative for people and the communities in which they live as well as for the long-term strength and resilience of our economy.
There are many resources about “Our Path Forward” online, including the six core strategies that will allow us to scale business, enable people, and build place. You can visit the website, view the webinar with which we launched the plan, read the 13 page summary, and digest the 150 page Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy which has been submitted to the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) and qualifies our region to apply for EDA grant funds for the next five years.
Dr. King said, of economic justice, that “The dignity of the individual will flourish when the decisions concerning his life are in his own hands, when he has the assurance that his income is stable and certain, and when he knows that he has the means to seek self-improvement.” The Prosperity Strategy is the Capital Region’s roadmap toward that definition of economic justice, and Valley Vision is committed both to its own role in seeing it through, and as well to the conversations and partnerships across our communities that will enable us all to succeed.
Meg Arnold is Interim CEO of Valley Vision through June 30.