WealthWorks in Idaho

March, 2015
RDI recently partnered with the University of Idaho and Oregon State University on a three-year WealthWorks Northwest initiative in Idaho. The project will include three research components and delivery of workshops to introduce the approach to rural community members in Idaho. Two regions will be supported to explore an innovative idea to increase wealth in their communities. During this Exploration Phase, participants will conduct market demand research and select a wealth creation value chain based on shared economic, social, and environmental values in which producers, processors, buyers, and others work together to create community wealth.
WealthWorks Northwest (WWNW) improves rural livelihoods with an innovative approach to economic development that creates lasting wealth in rural communities. RDI has been delivering WealthWorks Northwest in Oregon since 2014. Regional groups have formed throughout the state to learn about the approach, and six groups were awarded grants to explore value chains specific to their region. The process brought together numerous communities, organizations, and stakeholders throughout the regions, and in the fall of 2014, Oregon’s southwest regional team, Coos, Curry, and Douglas Counties, received a WealthWorks Northwest Award to bolster regional food businesses. The team is working to advance their chosen value chain: a regional food infrastructure system focused on food protein products.
WWNW recognizes that, generally, building wealth is the goal of economic development, but building wealth is a lot more than growing the amount of money in a community. Simply creating jobs and generating income, however appealing as those goals may be, are never enough to build lasting wealth. WealthWorks aims to advance a region’s overall prosperity and self-reliance, strengthen existing and emerging sectors, and increase jobs and incomes for lower-income residents and businesses.
WealthWorks is an integrative economic development approach that seeks to leverage existing, or emerging, community assets and economic sectors to connect people, resources, and markets to generate community wealth in rural regions. The model is grounded on the premise that a value chain generates investments across all eight forms of capital—built, cultural, financial, individual, intellectual, natural, political, and social—and each form of capital is working to reinforce rather than undermine the others to create lasting rural livelihoods and communities.
WealthWorks workshops in Idaho are tentatively slated to start near the first of the year. The WealthWorks in Idaho project is funded by a USDA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative and led by the University of Idaho and Oregon State University (OSU). RDI is contracting with OSU to lead the outreach component.
For more information about WealthWorks Northwest, contact Noelle Colby-Rotell, email: nrotell@rdiinc.org or phone: 208.954.9564.

RDI is partnering with the University of Idaho and Oregon State University on a three-year WealthWorks Northwest initiative in Idaho.