Letter to the Editor: County plan calls for economic gardening


The editorial on April 23 equated recent news of economic growth from within Shenandoah County, the new jobs coming from expansions at Mount Jackson’s Rt. 11 Chips and Bowman Andros, with the prospect of “a proposed mega site in the Mount Jackson area.”

They are not the same. Expansion of existing local businesses is the primary method of economic development called for in the 2013 Shenandoah County Economic Development Strategic Plan.

The county’s economic plan offers a roadmap for growth in agriculture and tourism, as well as manufacturing and technology. The emphasis is on support for existing county sectors and companies, a strategy known as economic gardening. It wisely focuses on helping local businesses grow and thrive, instead of competing with thousands of other localities to attract new businesses.

The economic development plan concludes that rural areas achieve up to 86 percent of net new job growth from existing local businesses and that expansion of these enterprises offers a far greater positive community impact over time than outside recruitment. It also states: “Basing an economic development strategy solely on landing a ‘big fish’ has only a small chance of success.”

Shenandoah Forum applauds Shenandoah County’s Economic Development Team for crafting a balanced economic development strategy, and both town and county leadership for realizing that supporting and growing our local businesses and operations is an efficient way to ensure economic prosperity and our high quality of life.

Kim Woodwell
Executive Director, Shenandoah Forum