It's promising to see the Crescent City/Del Norte Chamber of Commerce move in a bold new direction aimed at community development. As the chamber searches for a new executive director, it hopes to find one who will oversee a group of program leaders who organize a variety of programs centering on developing entrepreneurial skills, offering community events, advocating economic development and more. These efforts match a vision for growing our community that civic, business and other community leaders developed this spring during economic guru David Beurle's workshops here.
It's a significant change in the chamber's role in our community but an appropriate one.
There's little doubt that economic development needs to occur in Del Norte County. A third of the county's residents live in poverty, and many of our best high school graduates leave because of lack of opportunity here. An economic revival, however, will require coordinated efforts among governing bodies and programs aimed at developing entrepreneurship and leadership skills among residents.
As a nonprofit, the chamber has the ability to bring together, coordinate and focus each of the governing bodies and varying organizations in Del Norte County on economic development. To a degree, the chamber already has started this with its has199.com effort that garnered community support for improving harbor, airport, sewer/wastewater, highways 199/197 road access and broadband/telecommunications.
When chambers in other communities have refocused their efforts on community development, they've succeeded in bringing much needed infrastructure and tourism programs to their communities. The Santa Fe, N.M., chapter a few years ago stands out as one such group that helped transform a sleepy desert town into a thriving arts and tourism center.
On Thursday, chamber officials and various governing bodies and organizations from across the county plan to gather to show their support for local community development efforts. Buy-in and funding from the city, county, school district, college system, tribes and many others will be necessary for the chamber to launch its programs and for them to succeed.
And we all stand to benefit from that success.