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Leaders in Southwest Missouri Explore the Future of Community and Economic Development


BOLIVAR, Mo. — Community leaders gathered this month in Bolivar, Mo., to discuss ways to better engage themselves in thinking innovatively about the future of traditional community and economic development.

At a roundtable discussion on Nov. 8, 2012, about 20 local government leaders, business owners, and representatives of the University of Missouri Extension, foundations and nonprofits shared community and economic development successes from the past year and their expectations and goals for 2013.

Sharon Gulick, director of the Extension Community Economic and Entrepreneurial Development program at the University of Missouri Extension, talked about the importance of capitalizing on growth in entrepreneurship.

Lisa Zimmerman, executive vice president at the Missouri Business Development Group, talked about the growth in development by micro businesses.

Brian Fogle, president and CEO of the Community Foundation of the Ozarks, talked about opportunities for small manufacturing businesses and about recognizing interest in local and farm-to-market models for food businesses.

Participants examined trends to consider when encouraging economic and community development: an emphasis on environmental sustainability, a movement toward employee-owned and cooperative companies, increased leveraging of technology, using local resources and investment in driving development, and the recognition that strategic regional initiatives are beneficial to local movements.

The discussions included a common message: Economic development needs to be designed in a way that is resilient, and because of increasingly limited regional resources, public and private entities need to collaborate to make community and economic development possible.