Local heroes are buying communities a brighter future, providing new tools for inclusive, green, resilient economic growth

On December 5, 2022, RECONOMICS Institute announced the first phase of its new RISING PLACES initiative with the launch of a Founding Sponsors program.

The Founding Sponsors program is an opportunity for local leaders—elected, business, non-profit or citizen—to serve the public and boost their organization or career by buying their entire community free, permanent access to RISING PLACES Tools.

The tools are designed to facilitate and accelerate inclusive, green, resilient economic growth.

These new tools enable residents and local governments to easily cooperate with each other in making their community a magnet for public and private funding—and employers—to boost income and quality of life for all.

The tools are provided to the community by a local benefactor—called a RISING PLACES Sponsor—who pays a small, one-time fee (based on the population of the city or county) to provide local leaders and residents with free, permanent access to the RISING PLACES Tools.

RISING PLACES Sponsors can be elected leaders, non-profits, foundations, business leaders…or just good citizens. Each city or county needs only one Sponsor.

On December 5, 2022, the first phase of the RISING PLACES initiative was launched with a discounted Founding Sponsors program.

The Founding Sponsors program ends on March 31, 2023, when RISING PLACES goes live at RisingPlaces.org. The opportunity to become a local RISING PLACES Sponsor will continue after that date, but the 50% discount available via the “Founding” Sponsors program will end.

Back in 2011, the world was both shaken and inspired when the oppressive government of Tunisia was overthrown by social media-powered citizens.

Similar uprisings quickly followed in Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Syria and Bahrain, overthrowing despots like Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Muammar Gaddafi, Hosni Mubarak and Ali Abdullah Saleh.

But a lasting shift for the better failed to manifest. Social media helped get rid of the past, but couldn’t create a better local future.

Now, this new breed of online tools takes the opposite approach. The 12 RISING PLACES Tools—which comprise 6 Discovery Tools and 6 Roadmap Tools—harness citizen power to support local governments in making the economic, social and environmental changes that improve the economy and quality of life for all.

RISING PLACES is an initiative of Washington, DC-based RECONOMICS Institute, The Society of Revitalization & Resilience Professionals, a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization (and publisher of REVITALIZATION).

Its Executive Director is Storm Cunningham, who was in Tunisia meeting with local activists shortly before the Arab Spring.

Cunningham says: “Over 90% of community revitalization efforts fail to make a significant, lasting difference. The three most common reasons are 1) insufficient investment by state/federal agencies, private real estate investors and employers; 2) voters and leaders who don’t understand the process of creating resilient prosperity; and 3) lack of tools needed to track the forms of economic, social and/or environmental renewal desired by voters, and track progress towards those goals. RISING PLACES Tools help solve all three problems.

Here’s how RISING PLACES Tools overcome those three fatal obstacles to healthy economic development:

  1. Lack of Resources: The old economic development model of paying employers (by giving away future tax revenues ) to relocate in a community no longer works, since every place offers similar incentives. RISING PLACES Tools use the new model, which has two components. First, it attracts state / federal funding and private real estate investment by creating confidence that the local future will be brighter. Second, it attracts new residents and employers not via expensive ads or incentives, but by making the community a place they want to be.
  2. Lack of Awareness: It’s hard to get voters to support changes leading to revitalization and resilience if they don’t understand why it’s necessary, and how they will benefit. And, it’s hard to affect necessary changes if leaders don’t understand how best to implement them. RISING PLACES Tools educate both leaders and residents in the most effective manner: small bits of knowledge at a time.
  3. Lack of Accurate, Ongoing Feedback: Despite the ubiquity of online polls, social media and Zoom meetings, it’s difficult for elected leaders to ascertain what local residents really want, which increases political risk. RISING PLACES Tools provide meaningful, accurate, ongoing feedback from local citizens in a useful form that focuses on the strategic success factors.

During 2022, as the RISING PLACES initiative was being created, RECONOMICS Institute recruited early Founding Sponsors, including a Fortune 500 company, an elected official, a developer, a non-profit and a small business owner.

Their motivations for becoming the Local Sponsor included public service (love of their community), individual career advancement (via local leadership) and organizational growth (by strategically positioning it at the heart of local revitalization and resilience efforts).

Becoming a Sponsor takes just two minutes, with no further obligations.

Learn more about RISING PLACES and its Sponsors program.

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