January 12, 2022

Flying starts from the ground. The more grounded you are, the higher you will fly.”
-J.R. Rim

As we begin the year it can be daunting to think about the mountain we must climb to reach our destination. As with most people these days, community and economic development leaders have a lot on their plates. Not only do we need to continue to grow and develop our local economies, but we must do so under the weight of a continuing health crisis, a compromised labor market, and the constant push-pull of those on the economic and political extremes. It’s a lot to digest, but I believe that we are up to the task because of what the past two years have revealed and taught us.

The first step in any journey is to examine where you really are. For example, if you are beginning a fitness program you don’t run 10 miles or lift weights for three hours the first day. You build into it based on where you’re starting, how healthy you are, and what resources you have access to.

As we work to get our communities healthier economically and socially, we must be realistic and grounded. This does not mean we table our ambitions. We have every right to be ambitious and should be as bold as ever. It simply means that we must realize where we are and what we have to work with.

We have an opportunity to remake the middle class, to fix entrenched power structures, and to fully utilize our talent and technological advantages. We can grow, close gaps in health, wealth, and opportunity, and be more globally competitive than ever before. We just can’t do it all at once or overnight, and we can’t lose patience with the process.

2022 has and will start slowly, and eventually we will be running downhill. For now, have patience, show respect for those you are leading and for those leading you, and keep focused. Just don’t be satisfied. We can and must be better. I look forward to the journey.

-Kenny McDonald