Social Capital – A surprising reminder for entrepreneurs
Dr. John Thomas of the UVA Cooper Center presented a summary of how communities are using a new approach to address challenging socio-economic situations at the Crater Community Hospice breakfast meeting at Virginia State University on April 2, 2014. The breakfast commemorated the 20th year of service to the Tri-Cities and greater Crater district. Brenda Mitchell, CEO stated “CCH has many supporters who trust our organization and without which we would not be celebrating this milestone. It was an honor to have Dr. Thomas speak at our event and we hope all attendees will strive to increase collaboration and implement his suggestions. We are looking forward to another 20 years as a result of these efforts!”
Dr. Thomas sighted seemingly identical problems that were addressed in old and new ways by different communities. After extensive studies into communities that have faced economic downturns in the last few decades, patterns of success and failure are evident in how communities try to revitalize themselves. Failure results from when there is suspicion of the motives of others. Successful communities execute power and leadership via web of organizations – multiple small hubs of shared interest. The successful social-economic responses to a community in crisis occur when organizations with shared understanding and values come together. They form hubs of leadership with members who share a high level of trust.
There are two basic models to use for leading a community in challenging times: Big and well-resourced companies with a big commitment or small grass roots efforts with intense effort. In the communities that are rebounding and thriving there is a clear network of passionate yet fluid leadership. Groups form and grow dynamically. This new network style only happens in an atmosphere of trust. Of course such trust is the result of shared understanding – it must be both given and earned.
As part of his research, the Tri-Cities region has been analyzed. His assessment of significant factors include
1. There are numerous non-profit organizations
2. The CCAM organization is an internationally recognized model for success
3. The local and national economy is improving
4. The military training hub is a huge asset
5. Long term business owners are missing
In summary, when asked how local business can best serve their communities, Dr. Thomas offered a simple list. Perhaps surprising to many community oriented entrepreneurs, he suggested the most important thing is focusing on the success of your own business. It makes sense of course. Businesses cannot give time, money or other resources unless they have something to give.
The three ways entrepreneurs best help their communities
1. Make their business successful
2. Give or donate locally
3. Participate with a non-profit – volunteer, guide or give
The mission of Crater Community Hospice is to educate the community as well as provide quality care and service.