Economic development with WealthWorks

The WealthWorks program provides a new framework to address economic development for rural communities in a more holistic manner that builds on community assets while connecting them to the greater regional economy.

WealthWorks is a new, innovative approach to economic development for rural communities that infuses traditional economic development strategies with an influx of community development, building on existing and underutilized local assets and connecting them to the larger regional economy, creating a broad, sustainable economic base in communities. WealthWorks is demand-driven and has a proven success record in several regional pilot projects across some of the most economically challenged regions in the United States. Areas in Appalachia, the Deep South, and along the Texas-Mexico border have developed strong regional economic sectors by implementing the WealthWorks process.

The WealthWorks program, provided through Yellow Wood Associates, requires a trained team of coaches and coordinators to execute the WealthWorks process. The team creates and implements value chains to develop, maintain and utilize a broad and effective network of individuals, groups and organizations vital to the success of the program. These value chains go well beyond the regular “players” of traditional economic development by building on the dynamic development of relationships that provide symbiotic benefits to all included in the chain across a broad economic spectrum. The program provides value-added aspects to community development that promote sustainable community and regional growth and prosperity.

Currently, two regions in Michigan have participated in the WealthWorks program. The first, in the Eastern Upper Peninsula, is well underway utilizing the WealthWorks framework. The second team, located in West Michigan, has just completed their training and will begin their development and implementation process this January. A Michigan State University Extension Educator is part of this second team, serving in the role of coordinator.

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