Regional Economic Success

CSG advances the principles and practices of regional wealth-building as the means to better economic development policy and practice in the United States.

Regional wealth building is an approach to community and economic development that simultaneously maintains or grows the stock of the multiple assets that provide the base for a region’s more prosperous future, increases locally-rooted ownership and control of those assets, and helps low-income people, places and firms get ahead by always including them in the design and benefits of economic development strategies.

Wealth building is about doing economic development differently. It widens the focus beyond the core goals of profit, income and job creation – today’s typical development targets – to include the essential goals of strengthening the critical non-financial assets that will sustain profit, jobs and income into the future and ensuring that development strategies increase opportunity and improve outcomes for people, places and firms struggling on the margins.

Wealth building is also about taking a regional approach. Issues like persistent poverty, unemployment, stagnant sectors, and underperforming schools are challenges that require coordinated efforts from experts and practitioners who can develop, test and share strategies that respond to such challenges. Connections within regions introduce creative ways of addressing vital issues that are too large to be taken on alone. This is particularly critical for rural communities and bypassed urban neighborhoods, which are among the hardest-hit by development challenges and often lack the necessary resources to face their greatest threats. Regional collaboration leverages the wide range of assets across communities, increasing access to underutilized resources that can be woven together into a development “whole” whose results can be greater – and benefit many more – than the sum of its community parts.

So how does one build regional wealth? Wealth-building value chains – flexible in their design and application – are an economic development tool that can broaden and deepen wealth building impacts within a region. A wealth building value chain is a coordinated network of people, businesses, organizations and agencies that addresses a market opportunity to meet demand for specific products and services. In wealth-building value chains, each partner advances its individual self-interest while they together build rooted local and regional wealth. In short, value chain partners work together to connect community assets to real market demand in ways that build livelihoods that last.

CSG helps to organize and advance initiatives that bring together diverse leaders across geographic regions to understand wealth building, discover common ground and devise action that will make their place better for all to live and work in. Since 2011, CSG has actively engaged in WealthWorks, a national effort to advance regional wealth-building as a mainstream community and economic development practice. As part of a network of organizations advancing WealthWorks, CSG has both helped regional leaders understand and apply WealthWorks and has developed a wide range of tools, videos and success stories to catalyze communities to action.