November 14, 2022

“I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it.” 
-Vincent Van Gogh

“Studying whether there’s life on Mars or studying how the universe began, there’s something magical about pushing back the frontiers of knowledge. That’s something that is almost part of being human, and I’m certain that will continue.” ​​​​​​
Sally Ride

In each profession there are new frontiers to explore and conquer. Scientists, mathematicians, and engineers continue to push the limits of their field through space exploration, artificial intelligence, and quantum computing. Athletes continue to find ways to smash records that many thought were unbreakable, and companies like Apple continue to push the boundaries of business through valuations that exceeded two trillion dollars. Artists never cease to create new forms of music, art, and film that give new perspectives.

What is your profession’s frontier? What is your community’s frontier? How are you pursuing it? Who is inspiring you to pursue it? If we aren’t occasionally (or perhaps regularly) asking these questions, then we are missing something and doing a disservice to our field.

In economic and community development it is our job to challenge the status quo and to help our communities see what is possible. It is our job to look at best practices, to use our imagination to see how we can use existing tools, or develop new ones, so that good communities can become great. All communities can get better and provide opportunities, raising the standard of living for their citizens.

Whether you are focused on small towns and rural communities like our friends at Small Nation, or building connected parkways like the Atlanta Beltline and Columbus’ own Rapid 5 initiative, or building one of the largest semiconductor locations in the world like the State of Ohio, Licking County, and the City of New Albany are doing–you will have to explore new tools and new partnerships to make it happen. These examples may or may not inspire you, but they are all driven by purpose and by big, bold ideas. If you work in place-based marketing, workforce development, the financing of small and minority businesses, or serve on a planning and zoning commission, the time is now to seek, adapt, and master new models.

This week, I encourage you to seek inspiration to help drive you, your organization, and your community. When the three are combined, great things happen. Let’s raise each other up and move forward together. Have a great week.

– Kenny McDonald