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Reach Higher Partner Profile: Shasta County Economic Development Corporation

Keynote Speaker Nancy P. Whitworth

Locally, Redding has historically been an economy based on and driven by natural resources like lumber and agriculture, but a small movement of local entrepreneurial thinkers and doers is working to change that perception through innovative business models.

Shasta County Economic Development Corporation (EDC), which has inherent interest in fostering a culture of innovation and job creation, is putting on an event this month to feature some innovative local companies and address the need for fostering entrepreneurial zest.

“Game Changers: Building an Innovative Community With an Entrepreneurial Spirit,” will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 27 at the Redding Convention Center. Admission is $25 per person, call 224-4940 for information.

The event will feature  local innovative companies, lunch, local resources and a keynote address, “A Community’s Transformatio:n The Story of Greenville, South Carolina,” by speaker Nancy P. Whitworth.

Whitworth, a native South Carolinian, has been in Greenville for 30 years and has played an integral role in Greenville’s transformation from a dying textile town with serious economic problems to being an innovative community with an entrepreneurial spirit that is willing to take risks.

“Game Changers” will demonstrate to the community some local innovative companies that are impacting the local economy, as well as the resources available to assist and foster start-up development.

Involved community members would likely agree it’s not a stretch to assert that the past couple years have helped foster an intangible, somewhat non-quantifiable energy – the great entrepreneurial spirit.

Visiting the Shasta EDC website brings to light some of the locally emerging careers and industries that many residents might know little about. From information technology to military drone design and programming to green technologies, Shasta County is ripe for the next generation of entrepreneurial torchbearers.

Presently, and in the recent past decades, Shasta County has seen a noticeable shift of many local jobs to the service economy. While service-based economies are sometimes more prone to market volatility, balancing the county’s economic foundation with sustainable industries and an educated employee base will help strengthen long-term viability and growth.

The local landscape is evolving culturally, economically and environmentally. With an increasingly technology-fluent generation of students coming up through the ranks, innovation on these fronts is almost inevitable. But effect doesn’t happen without the right cause.

Shasta County has a foundation to attract large companies to relocate locally (bringing jobs and economic viability), but has also set itself up to field and foster projects that can be nurtured locally and grown nationally. If approached correctly, the county has the ability to restructure itself into a globally-connected manufacturing and technology economy driven by an innovative community.

There is no solution without compromise, but opening itself to the global market gives Shasta County access to more lucrative markets, long-term economic stability and higher paying jobs.

In order for this approach to work, Shasta County needs to refocus its education systems to include an entrepreneurial spirit with a high degree of business acumen, and properly prepare the next generation of students for further education and evolving job markets. Postsecondary education is an extremely important factor in entrepreneurial and small business success.

Reach Higher Shasta is one area where education is addressed at the parent and student level, and if  embraced and appreciated by the community, an infrastructure to support start-ups and entrepreneurship will begin to emerge.

Joshua Corbelli wears a number of hats these days – journalist, small business owner and team builder. He’s always had a place in his heart for the written word, and works, though not as much as he’d like, to keep his skills sharp. Contact him at joshua.corbelli@gmail.com.