August 28 marks the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech during the march on Washington, one of the most memorable events in the history of the United States. The date is marked not only because of the significance of the march, but because of the content of the “I Have a Dream” speech – a speech that has inspired civil rights advocates and leaders for generations, and well beyond our borders.
If you receive this blog, you have an interest in community progress and prosperity, and you likely work on issues big and small. In re-reading the content of the entire speech I am inspired by at least three statements, said far before the crescendo at the end, that I believe provide a footprint for us to tackle big issues and the most intractable problems.
First, “So we have come here today to dramatize an appalling condition.” That phrase could be used today to address inadequate progress in our educational systems, poverty, minority unemployment or drugs in our communities. To me, this statement means that in order to bring the issues of our time to life and to give them a face, someone has to bluntly describe the harsh realities of the issue and its impact on our communities. Leaders on all sides must be challenged to take action. It is a starting point for change – a way to say, “Let’s get real about this issue.”
Second, “This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.” To me, this means let’s begin – today – to take action and to improve the situation. Let’s agree to act upon those things that we can agree on and act when evidence is overwhelming. Let’s do the hard work required to find creative solutions for the issues that may have more unpredictable outcomes. Every issue does not raise to the level of a crisis, but for those that do, incremental change is not sufficient.
Finally, “We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline.” Impactful change requires leadership “with dignity and discipline” from those standing at the podium, those impacted by the issue and those protecting pieces of the status quo. Mass generalizations, inflammatory sound bites or destructive behavior will only provide excuses for inaction and stagnation.
Our individual interpretation of these phrases within the speech is different, but I ask that you consider each of them when facing issues that are holding back your community’s progress and limiting our the futures of our children.
One Columbus Update
- Four international companies from Germany, Japan, Korea and India visited the Columbus Region last week to explore projects. Thank you to our community partners who showcased our workforce and community assets.
- One Columbus will attend meetings in Washington, D.C. this week with leaders from the International Economic Development Council. We’ll meet with White House officials and discuss federal policies and opportunities for engagement. Our team will also travel to Connecticut and New York to meet with both companies and location consultants.
- Workers are among our most important economic development assets, and ongoing investments like workforce training bring value to the employee and the employer. In the first week of September, the Ohio Development Services Agency will post information on its website about the Ohio Incumbent Workforce Training Voucher Program, an opportunity for employers to receive training grants. Contingent upon eligibility, funding is available on a first-come, first-served basis. The program has only had one prior round of funding, during which applications exceeded available grant funds within days of the application release. All Columbus Region businesses are encouraged to review the program details and ready themselves with the required information to increase the likelihood of a successful application.