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RCAC brings annual conference to Globe

The organization that provided resources to help establish Globe’s Economic Development Department (EDD) is coming to town for its annual retreat this month, in an effort to show its members the results of their work and to highlight the successes of the Building Rural Economies (BRE) initiative in rural Arizona.

The Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC) will be bringing 100 people to Globe from across the country from April 18 through 21 for a series of seminars, discussions and events for the nonprofit’s annual retreat.

“They’ll be staying at our hotels, eating at our restaurants, and using facilities such as the Depot and the Elks Hall,” says EDD Director Linda Oddonetto. “They’ll be shopping locally and really giving us a chance to highlight our hometown.”

RCAC, founded in 1978, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that works with rural communities in 13 western states to provide “training, technical and financial resources and advocacy so rural communities can achieve their goals and visions.”

“We decided to come to Globe because we’ve been working [here] the last few years,” says Carol Cohen, RCAC’s Assistant Director of Community Environmental Services. “The event is sort of putting a bow on the work that we’ve done, and there is more to come, of course.”

The City of Globe began its relationship with RCAC in February 2018 with a series of meetings known as “Recharge Our Community Economy,” to get community feedback on the most important aspects of future community development.

There was a broad range of buy-in from several community partners including the City of Globe, Gila County, Central Arizona Governments and Local First Arizona, a nonprofit organization committed to economic development in the state.

 

A wide swath of community stakeholders provided ideas and feedback during a series of “Recharge Our Community Economy” meetings in 2018. Photo by David Abbott

 

The initial meetings covered a wide range of topics related to economic development including downtown revitalization, housing, education and recreation.

The meetings were so popular that the scope of the RCAC work was expanded beyond the original economic development project into the creation of a 3-year partnership to help create a strategic action plan for future economic growth.

In addition to bringing economic expertise and perspective to Globe leadership, RCAC provided a $45,000 grant via its BRE initiative to “provide training in comprehensive community economic development to support and develop local assets and talents.” Its goals are to increase local entrepreneurship and jobs; develop catalytic projects that seed additional investments, and develop a supportive, entrepreneurial environment for economic development to thrive.

The three-phase program focused on identifying economic opportunities in the community and leaders to guide them. In phase two, RCAC provided training for local entrepreneurs and business owners and phase three focused on the implementation of the strategic plan created with the support of RCAC.

The ultimate goal for RCAC though, is to create self-sustaining programs for its targeted communities.

“It’s all about building the community’s capacity,” says Elizabeth Bernal, a Rural Development Specialist for RCAC based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. “We’re kind of working ourselves out of a job by trying to build their capacity to where they don’t need us as much, and then they can teach us.”

According to Oddonetto, RCAC gave a boost to her department in its early stages of development.

“Our economic development plan was going to happen anyway, but RCAC has been a wonderful resource,” Oddonetto said. “Our partnership has been a win for the city. Economic development is a long game and as a community, we have to be invested and stay true to the plan.”

Bringing its annual “in-service” to Globe is a big departure for RCAC, as its corporate offices are located in West Sacramento, California and that is where they traditionally meet.

According to Ari Neumann, RCAC’s Director of Community and Environmental Services, the decision to come to Globe came as a result of a decision to spread the wealth to its community partners rather than focusing on a major urban area.

Neumann, who is from Genesee, Idaho, a town with a population of about 900, sees Globe as something of a poster child for the success of the BRE initiative that is focused on rural development.

“We settled on Globe really quickly, because it’s such a success story with what they’ve done already,” Neumann says. “I’m excited to be going back into rural communities, and supporting a community that’s done so much, to really showcase Globe’s success story.”

To Oddonetto, it all comes down to another aspect of a partnership that has brought value to the area beyond its initial investment.

“RCAC is a key partner and a great resource we’ve been fortunate to have,” she says. “It’s good for us and exciting for them to see our successes.”

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