Helping a Community Reach its Potential

posted on Monday, February 28, 2022 in Grow Cedar Valley

by Cary Darrah (as published in The Courier Progress Edition on February 27,2022)

The Cedar Valley is already a great place to live, work, play and grow, but can you imagine the potential we have to be an even better place to call home?

We can!  

In October 2021, the Grow Cedar Valley’s Board of Directors and other community stakeholders identified three key goals and coordinating strategies that must be addressed if the Cedar Valley is to reach our full potential:

  • Workforce -- Grow and Diversify the quality and quantity of the Cedar Valley workforce.
  • Placemaking -- Elevate the Cedar Valley as a place of choice for individuals and businesses
  • Economy – Enhance the diversity of the Cedar Valley economic base

We have heard the cry for attracting and retaining workers from every business and industry sector so it is the commitment of Grow Cedar Valley to work collaboratively throughout the Cedar Valley and across the state and region to address barriers that may contribute to the lack of an available, diverse and quality workforce.

Our goal of “Placemaking” is simply defined as the process of creating quality places that people want to live, work, play, learn and grow in. It is the process of creating and investing in places where people want to be. We’ve recognized for decades the importance of community image and perception, but it has become the highest priority for current talent and workforce when making decisions to stay or relocate in the Cedar Valley.

Placemaking efforts inspire people to collectively imagine and identify with the heart and soul of a community. It tangibly moves us to create affection for our community. While this may seem a “softer” approach to strengthening our position in the economy, the reality is that differentiating and identifying the authenticity of the Cedar Valley is the only way to have a competitive edge in the race to attract and retain workforce. Grow Cedar Valley is excited to have an impact in moving the needle in this area by focusing on the following strategies:

  • Improve the knowledge and image of the Cedar Valley among internal stakeholders
  • Develop and implement strategies to enhance the image and visibility of the Cedar Valley statewide, nationally and beyond
  • Encourage and collaborate for the completion of projects and programming in the community to improve the quality of life for all residents

Successful communities are distinctive communities, and the Cedar Valley has that in spades.

Finally, diversifying the economic base is also a high priority. Expanding and strengthening the business retention (BRE) programming services is critical and innovation across all sectors will need to be embraced for the Cedar Valley to continue moving forward. Grow Cedar Valley plays a lead role in providing BRE services and growing innovation and entrepreneurship in the Cedar Valley.

Grow Cedar Valley is not alone in reassessing and rebooting after a challenging couple of years and although our goals are listed separately, we are aware they are all connected. To be most effective, we must be laser focused on advancing each priority and assessing the results of any action taken.

The Cedar Valley has created a strong foundation for growth and opportunities and now we need to capitalize on this momentum to move forward and make us an even better place to live, work, play and grow. Grow Cedar Valley is ready to lead the way!

Cary DarrahCary is the President and CEO for Grow Cedar Valley. Prior to assuming the role of President & CEO in 2018, she was Vice President of Community Development for Grow Cedar Valley as well as President of the TechWorks Campus – an industrial redevelopment project and subsidiary of Grow Cedar Valley.