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Welcome to the Tightrope Act

Read an excerpt from this article below. You can download the full article by using the link at the end of the excerpt.

“You planning commissioners should stop getting in the way of business.”

“You know, you people on the planning commission can’t really make anything happen anyways. You all just react.”

If you’re reading this I bet you have heard one or both of these lines before – probably after a decision someone didn’t like. My 8-year old, with his exhaustive knowledge of “How to Spot a Bully in the Making,” would understand what’s going on here.

illustration by Paul Hoffman

When the economy isn’t where we all want it to be, hitting the planning commission’s ability, or lack of ability, to foster economic improvement is a bit of a sucker punch. And it reflects the oversimplified assumptions that many people have about how local economies (and planning commissions) work.

Anyone saying either of those lines has it wrong. What you do as a planning commissioner has a huge impact on your local economy, and your community needs you to make those tough decisions.

Your impact is critical because you are the ones who are thinking about the future, not just about today’s demands.

Healthy economies depend on a complex interplay between the power  of the market and the often quiet, sometimes vocal, needs of the community.

End of excerpt

photo of Della RuckerDella Rucker, AICP, CEcD, is the Principal of Wise Economy Workshop, a consulting firm that assists local governments and nonprofit organizations with the information and processes for making wise planning and economic development decisions.

Rucker is also Managing Editor of EngagingCities and author of the recent book The Local Economy Revolution: What's Changed and How You Can Help -- portions of which will be serialized here on PlannersWeb.com during 2014.

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