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Collaboration at its Best

Adam Wagner
May 20, 2011

Sometimes, the best collaboration is born from competition.

That was the case with the Buckeye-Foresite Region of the Stronger Economies Together (SET) program, a United States Department of Agriculture-sponsored pilot program focused on regional economic development.

When the Voinovich School realized that there were two areas in Southeast Ohio competing for the program, its representatives worked to bridge the competing projects and make a more viable — and ultimately successful — proposal.

The ideas that stemmed from that proposal have been successful enough that even though the SET program has had its final official meeting, many of the involved parties have agreed to continue working towards the project’s goals.

“To realize the value of this program is the work yet to do, rather than the program itself,” said John Glazer, president of TechGROWTH Ohio.

One of the primary purposes of SET is to change the way economic and political entities think about economic planning, from a boundary-based mindset to a regional one.

“[Boundaries] are silos in the way of the regional approach to planning. So that’s what this was all about: to lay a foundation for breaking those silos and have people engage in a regional approach to solving their economic problems,” Glazer said.

The final official meeting of SET concluded with the parties agreeing to a set of standards that would measure the economic outcomes. The next step is to secure funding so that the region can begin implementing its economic plan. Now, however, that process will take place with economic and political entities joining forces instead of competing against each other.

“At this point, it will be about achieving results,” Glazer said. “This group will endure if, as a result of the work it does, outcomes are changed.”