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Why Discuss Sustainability Early in the Development Process?

Local Economies can Change Quickly

As the global economy continues to change at dramatic speeds, and as economic downturns and upswings become more and more common, it falls on local regions to adjust to the impacts they feel in their local economies. The speed of global economic change presents new challenges. Everyone must find new ways to stay competitive. For industry, this means employing appropriately skilled workers to help their companies grow. For workers, this means identifying and building relevant skills to be able to move into jobs in growing companies. Every sector initiative should select their goals and activities while keeping in mind the immediate and long-term impact on the industry, the community’s workers, and regional vitality.

Sector initiatives respond to the need for more innovative approaches to skills-based economic development, and to the need to implement those approaches in a nimble, flexible, and responsive manner. The success of a sector initiative to fill that role and respond to ongoing environmental changes depends on sustaining the initiative over the long-run, and strengthening the relationships across public and private stakeholders.

A New Way of Doing Business

When industry patterns change in a local or regional economy, the relationships built during a sector partnership across public systems and private stakeholders ideally remain intact, and the knowledge and ability by intermediaries to convene diverse systems becomes a lasting part of their portfolio of services. Some intermediary organizations, based on success with an industry partnership, convene multiple sector initiatives, each with a unique industry focus. As sector initiatives or partnerships become even more widely used, some regions are seeing an increased ability to quickly adapt and respond to industry changes in their economy. This is because they have learned that the sector approach to meeting the workforce needs of businesses and workers offers a new way of doing business.

For example, a region that has sector initiatives in their healthcare, manufacturing, tourism and recreation, and energy sectors is growing its experience and capacity by public and private partners in the region to use a sector partnership approach to meeting industry’s need for skilled employees, and workers needs for good jobs. If their manufacturing sector changes, those relationships and their knowledge of the sector approach or model remain in place - they can shift their focus to meet the needs of the new or changing industry.

This institutionalization of the sector model leads to systems change. True sustainability can only be reached when sector partnerships reach this point of systemic change.

This is Not a Short-Term Investment

Sector partnerships are not intended as short-term solutions. They are intended to be long-term and evolving, requiring multiple strategies over the course of their life. As the industry of focus changes, the partnerships are intended to evolve. Their products or outputs might be short-term, such as an industry analysis report, a targeted training program, career pathway materials or a career awareness campaign. These short-term products should always be in support of longer term impacts and metrics.