Big Idea: Straight talk about unemployment/underemployment

Create a civic forum for discussions about unemployment/underemployment and the long-term systemic ramifications for our region. Citizens in our region require a shared knowledge of 21st-century economies/economic development. At issue is the complexity of the numerous variables that have created our current economic situation. Understanding these variables is a prerequisite for developing, designing and implementing actionable initiatives. I've been approached by Lisa Kimball of the renowned Plexus Institute ( to implement just such a forum.

Kimball cited the high level of community commitment toward sustainability and resilient economies, specific institutional assets such as Warren Wilson College, and our historical underemployment as reasons she sees Asheville as a prime target for their program. Citizens and leaders require the skill sets of 21st-century civic dialogue to address the complex problems facing our community. Our historically disproportionate focus on industrial recruitment and our fragmented (inefficient and ineffective) entrepreneurial development system are key indicators that a new way forward is necessary. However, the first step is creating the community-based, bottom-up demand for a different approach. The first step is a critical mass of shared civic knowledge.

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