Building a Thriving Andes
On November 15, a group of Andes residents gathered to talk about how to jumpstart the next generation of ideas and projects to strengthen Andes’ economy.
Led by new Andes resident Leigh Melander, the group started to build an asset map of the town, exploring what makes Andes strong already. Asset mapping looks at a wide range of strengths a community has, including natural resources, the built environment, social and economic strengths, public resources, and intangible strengths, which are often undiscovered skills or expertise that already exist in the area.
Creating asset maps can provide a great starting point for economic development planning because it helps to highlight how to build on the strengths in the community. It inspired some great initial ideas from participants, ranging from thoughts about how to strengthen current businesses to how to invite new businesses to the area that would serve both the tourist and local communities.
The evening was hosted by Andes Works!, an informal group of Andes residents, both long-timers and newcomers, that first joined together last summer to explore how to protect the community from the effects of gas hydrofracking, believing that the two current drivers of the local economy, sustainable agriculture and tourism, would be destroyed by the industrialization that would come with the gas companies. Because Andes has legitimate economic challenges, founders of Andes Works! quickly realized that the greatest opportunity to protect Andes would come in working to build a viable local economy that is not as vulnerable to outside interests.
This first conversation is a very first step in building practical plans to support area businesses, farmers, entrepreneurs, and workforce; bring tangible projects to the community that meet our needs, build an economy that entices young families to move to the area, and more, even as we protect all that we hold dear here — our clean air, our water, our quiet rural landscape, and our small town.
Building a strong Andes will take the ideas and energy of all of its residents! Please get involved and share your ideas. Learn more about how you can do that at http://andesworks.com. ~