#1 - Not having at least one person whose full-time job is to work daily in economic and community development. Too many communities ask a county extension agent or like professional to pull double duty and oversee their community's development efforts. Economic and community development takes constant work, and your community needs at least one person heading up this effort. No development experience is required. This person only needs a passion for the community, a collaborative mindset, and a willingness to act.
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#2 - Many towns think they need to commission a study to tell them the current state of affairs and what steps they need to take to improve. This is unnecessary. Studies can provide valuable insight but are not a prerequisite to improving your community. And they are often a way for communities to feel like they are doing something without doing anything. Your community leaders and residents know at least one thing that needs improvement. Start there.
#3 - This is who we are, and there is nothing we can do to change it. Too many towns see themselves as victims of globalization, technological innovation, and constant change. Their problem is that they haven't changed how they see themselves or what they've been doing for decades. A community is a living organism that adapts and grows or declines and dies. Choose the former, not the latter.