By Timothy Collins, Assistant Director, Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs
Community Development Society
I was struck by a study that was released just a few days ago that noted the wealth gap between the top 1 percent and the bottom 99 percent is now the highest it has been in several decades. The gap between the “haves” and “have-nots” has been on an upward trajectory for some time, so the most recent study adds more fuel to the perplexing problem that many communities in the U.S. are attempting to tackle today – be they located in urban, suburban or rural settings. How can we place the socioeconomic well-being of people in communities on an upward track?
No question about it, closing the gap in income inequality will require a long-term sustained effort. However, it occurs to me that our CDS professionals are one of the best resources available to guide community activities and investments that seek to advance the well-being of all residents. We do so, in part, by introducing and supporting economic development efforts that bring value and benefit to the entire community. Moreover, we work to ensure that the voices of all people are honored when decisions about jobs and economic development strategies are decided. No doubt about it, CDS members – researchers, Extension educators, practitioners, or policy analysts – are the right people to have at the table when it comes to pursuing evidenced-based approaches that serve as a roadmap on how to create wealth opportunities for the full array of people and communities in America.
My hope is that some of these innovative, creative strategies will be showcased at our 2014 CDS annual meeting. If you are a CDS member who has been engaged in efforts to reduce income inequality, please share your efforts with us. Use the CDS blog to inform us of the good work you are doing. In addition, plan to showcase your work at our annual meeting next July. Take care!
Edited by Cindy Banyai