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Economic Development Community Foundations

When you ask the question as to “what do charities do?” One of the first responses you are likely to hear is to “help the poor”. But the real truth of the matter is community foundations are here to help recipients develop their capacity to support themselves. Similarly, Economic Development has similar goals to help people through the creation of jobs to help themselves.

I read the other day that most economists agree that the health of a community is predicated on how it builds diverse/dynamic economies. Tuolumne County continues to experience the economic conundrum that has impacted every segment of our economy. The question that comes to mind, is how has the economic woes affected the Sonora Area Foundation and what are the remedies to build a diverse/dynamic economies?

As for the response to the first question, Sonora Area Foundation so far this year has received an increase in the number of grant requests and grant dollars from area non-profit organizations. The increase in grants and the dollar amounts relates directly to our local economy. The supply and demand theory without question applies with economics. With high unemployment numbers this translates into more families that are struggling, which in-turn places a greater demand for safety net services such as food, clothing and shelter. If family wage earners can be re-employed through the creation of jobs, the safety net load will in-turn be reduced. With a 2011 budget of $500,000 approved by the Sonora Area Foundation Board for grant funding, it goes without question that these grant dollar are highly competitive in today’s economy.

The second question as to what are the remedies that will turn our local economy around, can be reduced to five words, jobs, jobs and more jobs. If we can create more family wage jobs, this will produce a number of positive outcomes. For example those positive outcomes will: increased the tax base, infuse monies for lending and other financial services, reduce government assistance, increase demand for housing, provide funds for additional investment in infrastructure and provide more expendable income. These outcomes are direct by-products of a healthy economy. In a healthy economy, community foundations can expand their grant dollars to a greater diversification of needs and projects.

Economic Development and Community Foundations both are important players in creating and sustaining a healthy community. Community Foundations know that a strong economy translates into a vibrant community. Vibrant communities promote and encourage economic self sufficiency. Just as job creation is an investment in our community, your community foundation through its donors, scholarships and grants also makes those same investments by giving back to its community. A simple fact, a healthy economy will bring greater prosperity. Greater prosperity will provide individuals with greater opportunities.