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Can Separate Communities Achieve Results Through Collaboration?

By Sean Tubbs, Charlottesville Tomorrow

Collaboration is one way in which Virginia localities and institutions can work together to address economic development and social issues, but competition between differing groups can hinder results.

“Even though Virginia is a fantastic state and we get a lot of things done, we could use some advice on regional collaboration,” said Jim Cheng, a former Virginia commerce and trade secretary.

Cheng was moderator of a panel on collaboration on the last day of the Hometown Summit at the Tom Tom Founders Festival. The event featured a discussion of how collaborations in Ohio, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wisconsin have fared.

“I’m here to learn,” said Cheng.

Industry in the Cleveland metropolitan area faltered in the late 20th century, and one group of philanthropists banded together to form the Fund for Our Economic Future to address the region’s economic vitality.

“One of the secret weapons of legacy cities is that you have a history of philanthropy,” said Brad Whitehead, the fund’s president. “We have pooled our financial resources, and in the last 15 years, we have put together $120 million towards economic vibrancy.”

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