Rural northeastern North Carolina has undergone tremendous challenges since its history. Its ability to lure companies to help it move from its complexity of economic development, has an opportunity to inject youth and young adult leadership into the mix. Important to the work of communities is how they define the role of their youth and how that role translates into community and economic development. Community is defined as all that live there, and they in turn, are a vital part of the community’s infrastructure. The infrastructure generates economic capacity. In its absence, the odds of building the wherewithal to house, compete and build economic alliances is out of the question. There are just some thing’s communities must have; a relevant and competitive infrastructure to meet the demand of capacity, a community supportive of its growth potential and a leadership base that understands that rural communities must grow their leaders and then be vigilant sustainers of an ever changing demographic.
So how is community capacity built? Is it as simple as having access to financial resources and placing an order? The greatest asset of any community is the young people who stay there. Their commitment to the community sets the stage for the community’s future. The role young people play as a viable community constructs for building capacity and moving communities forward cannot be understated. They bring strength of resolve, innovation, authenticity and transparency that distressed communities, must build as a necessary trust.
Young people are not restrained by the context of community history; they don’t live there in fact; they face forward ever moving on. Their movement is with a sense of optimism in relation to what their world has provided through online social media and other networks. They envision as a real possibility, communities solving its problems with its workforce flourishing and its times for leisure and play as accessible and accommodating. They see it as a must to enjoy life after the work and at times, at the same time. Healthy community indexes drive their individual passions and so their impression of this aligns with that.
This summer, the North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center has captured the need for youth and young adult engagement in an incredible community-based opportunity. Youth and young adults will be invited to take part in a New Generation Initiative aimed at transforming their community. They will be challenged to build capacity of its local economies as well as define a project that’s entrepreneurial or workforce development focused that solves a local issue. The Rural Center is inviting communities to take advantage of this opportunity. In their application for consideration, they are asked to create a youth and young adult team that reflects the diversity of the community, and that can be supported by a number of community stakeholders such as non profits, local governmental entities and educational institutions.