With multiple players and moving parts, it’s no surprise that WealthWorks value chains need to be guided by a thoughtful and committed coordinator. At the point a critical mass of businesses, organizations, agencies and investors want to act on a market opportunity and build a value chain, they typically agree they must have a coordinator who will serve as the backbone that holds and weaves their efforts together.
The coordinator serves as the backbone of a WealthWorks value chain, weaving together the efforts of everyone involved.
The energy, knowledge and ability the coordinator brings to the job of constructing the value chain is a critical investment that can make the difference between success and failure. Anyone might be a coordinator—an organization, a business, an agency or a team. But like any value chain partner, the coordinator, too, must have a vested interest in developing and maintaining the value chain. A coordinator might be:
An organization involved in identifying the market opportunity might emerge as a “central” player and take on the coordinator role. For example, a local community development financial institution (CDFI) or a regional non-profit might coordinate our organic tomato soup value chain.
A public agency can be a coordinator. In this case, helping organize and build value chains might become the job description of state or local economic development agency staffers who are tasked with strengthening a specific sector—like regional organic food systems.
A team of interested partners might serve as coordinator—or hire one for the purpose. For example, a group of local schools and hospitals that are interested in sourcing more of their food locally (while improving health, reducing obesity, cutting costs, and increasing local incomes) might band together to hire and oversee a coordinator to build a WealthWorks value chain for that purpose.
A business might serve as coordinator. For example, a high-end grocery store company might find it extremely valuable to coordinate a value chain that ensures a steady and ready supply of organic tomato soup and other organic products—both to satisfy its customers and to buff its community-centric image.
In some cases and over time, the coordinator might become a researcher, a trusted advisor, perhaps a mediator and even a data collector. But, first and foremost, the WealthWorks value chain coordinator must embrace three critical roles: convener/connector, wealth-building advocate and innovator.
As the convener and connector, a coordinator reaches out to partners individually, and brings partners or potential partners together as needed. In the process, the coordinator scopes out the interests—self-interest, shared interest, or common interest—of potential partners in participating in the value chain. In building relationships among all the partners, the coordinator sees and is able to communicate the “big picture” of the value chain to others. From this vantage point, the coordinator can identify gaps in the value chain, recognize self-interest of potential new partners, and work with existing partners to resolve challenges and address opportunities quickly, often building or strengthening relationships along the way. The coordinator can also help facilitate the development of “feedback loops” that spread useful information throughout the value chain network.
The coordinator serves as the value chain’s leading wealth-building advocate. The coordinator holds the WealthWorks vision for the larger group, encouraging partners to make decisions and take actions that grow stocks of local capitals, increase local ownership and control of that capital, and improve livelihoods for more in the region, always including low-income people, places and firms. This vision of the region’s people, places, and firms doing better now and in the future helps value chain partners grapple with tough decisions and make far-sighted choices. Coordinators keep asking the tough questions and remind partners that regional wealth building is in their shared interest.
Finally, the coordinator must be a willing and skillful innovator—or facilitator of innovation. Value chain partners often address tough challenges and gain confidence in themselves and each other through innovation. The coordinator helps unleash innovation, encouraging partners to try new things, access new knowledge, engage in unprecedented conversations, take risks and learn from their efforts. These experiences catalyze new activities, attract new partners and make the value chain more resilient.
Specialties: Local Food, Placemaking, Renewable Energy
States served: Minnesota
Additional details: Enhancing the vitality and quality of life in Cass, Crow Wing, Morrison, Todd and Wadena counties is the mission of Region Five Development Commission. Resiliency, inclusion and collaboration are guiding concepts in achieving mutually shared goals that continue to evolve with local municipalities, state, federal, philanthropic, non-profit and social advocacy agencies.
Contact: Cheryal Lee Hills, 218-894-3233
200 1st Street NE, Suite 2
Staples, MN 56479
Alternative contact: Dawn Espe, 218-894-3233
Specialties: Food, Forestry/wood products, Tourism
States served: Idaho, Oregon, Washington
Additional details: RDI was formed in 1991 in response to the timber industry crisis facing the Pacific Northwest. Our nationally recognized programs and services help communities help themselves with effective and results-oriented training and resources necessary for individuals living in rural communities to build and sustain a better future in their communities. Our work is based upon our genuine commitment to build rural capacity through Leadership Development programs and strengthen Rural Economic Vitality through moving capacity into action.
Contact: Amy Hause, (541) 255-9590
Rural Development Initiatives
91017 S Willamette St
Coburg, Oregon 97408
Alternative contact: Heidi Khokhar, (541) 684-9077 ext. 7011
Specialties: Food, Forestry/wood products, Housing, Tourism
States served: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming
Region details: RCAC serves 13 western states including: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. We also work in the U.S. territories of the Marianas Islands, Marshall Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Additional details: RCAC Value Chains, economic development and Wealth Works are embedded in RCAC’s Building Rural Economies program. With over 10 years of experience in these arenas we technically assist communities who wish to envision and create their future.
Carol Cohen, 435-671-7068
3120 Freeboard Drive
West Sacramento, CA 95691
Alternative contact: Ellen Drew, (575) 421-0261
Specialties: Energy efficiency
States served: Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming
Additional details: Midwest Assistance Program (MAP) has been helping communities and tribal nations find solutions to their infrastructure and development needs through information, resource management, expertise, and technical assistance since 1979.
Contact: Chris Fierrros, 660-562-2575
303 N Market Street, Suite 2
Maryville, MO 64468
Specialties: Bio-energy, Food
States served: Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas
Region details: Communities Unlimited serves seven southern states: Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee. Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Alabama. This is an area that includes 60% of this country’s persistently poor counties, including large percentages of African Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans.
Additional details: Communities Unlimited has 40 years of community economic development experience in the South. It seeks to move rural and under-resourced places toward prosperity by identifying a community’s assets and the market demand for the products or services created from those. We then build value chain collaboratives based on WealthWorks principles to create new economic opportunities. Since 2013, we are demonstrating the success of this approach through a farm-to-fuel value chain in the Arkansas Delta.
Martha Claire Bullen, 479-443-2700
3 East Colt Square Drive
Fayetteville, AR 72703
Alternative contact: Debbie Luther, 870-509-1331
Specialties: Arts, Food, Forestry/wood products, Tourism
States served: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont
Additional details: Community Roots, LLC is a Vermont firm specializing in rural community and economic development consulting. Melissa Levy of Community Roots, LLC has been working with the WealthWorks framework over the past several years. She’s been a trainer, coach, workshop facilitator, and presenter in the WealthWorks community.
Contact: Melissa Levy, 802-318-1720
Location: Hinesburg, VT
Specialties: Arts, Energy efficiency, Food, Forestry/wood products, Manufacturing, Tourism
States served: Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia
Additional details: The Central Appalachian Network is a regional network of six anchor organizations that pursue collective sustainable economic development strategies across the Appalachian region of Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee. CAN builds regional partnerships and also works deeply at the sub-regional level around sectors and opportunities including local food value chains, forestry, new energy, small business development, social enterprise, recycling/upcycling, implementation-focused research, advocacy, and organizational capacity-building. CAN’s members are Appalachian Center for Economic Networks (ACEnet), Appalachian Sustainable Development (ASD), Coalfield Development Corporation, Community Farm Alliance (CFA), Mountain Association for Community Economic Development (MACED), Natural Capital Investment Fund (NCIF), and Rural Action.
Contact: Leslie Schaller, 740-592-3854
1456 C Patton Avenue
Asheville, NC 28806