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Success Stories

These pdfs tell the story of communities taking different approaches to economic development and succeeding. The stories come from a variety of sectors from all across the United States.

Back to the future:
 Food, farms and renewal

The Deep South has a strong agricultural history, but too many resources are concentrated in the hands of a few. Now a group of African American farmers in Mississippi and Alabama are banding together to access larger markets, engage young people and redefine farming as a path to prosperity. 

Camelina: Biofuel for thought

Thanks to its agrarian roots, the Arkansas Delta has a surprisingly strong tradition of small business entrepreneurship. That enduring heritage may soon find renewed vitality, thanks to a breakthrough green energy technology, a group of enterprising family farmers, and a gutsy local development collaborative.

Clean and lean: 
Building wealth... efficiently!

Appalachian Kentucky, where coal has long been king, is a region looking for new economic engines. An unconventional mix of energy efficiency upgrades, creative financing and unprecedented partnerships is now bringing low-income residents, utility companies, shopkeepers, community service agencies and local firms to the same table to save energy and money while creating jobs and generating wealth for the region. 

Come on UP: The Great Waters fine!

Not long ago, typical visitors to Michigan’s eastern Upper Peninsula drove up from the Detroit area to visit family or friends, maybe fish or hunt a little. After a decade of local collaboration, new visitors are streaming in from all over to visit The Great Waters—and to explore a world-class mix of landscape, heritage, recreation, local food and lively culture.

Rethreading a textile heritage: One stitch at a time

A robust textile manufacturing industry once supported generations of artisans and their communities in western North Carolina. But the last two decades have seen mills close, jobs lost and lives changed due to outsourcing. Now, a unique collaboration between a worker-owned firm, an innovation center, a county economic development organization, and local mills is bringing new hope to the place they call home. 

Wealth from forests: Doing wood right

Early attempts to encourage a viable green construction materials industry in Central Appalachia fell short of the mark. But a new social enterprise is showing success, thanks to a decentralized business model that offers a win-win for everyone involved—especially the region’s small, family-owned forests, sawmills and woodshops.