Economic resiliency is essential for a healthy, sustainable regional economy. Southern Virginia has experienced examples of major sector changes, manufacturing closures, and economic downturns. Environmental disasters can cause local and regional economic turmoil as well as disrupt significant infrastructure systems. Industry diversity is one component to having a resilient economy. Not putting “all your eggs in one basket” such as agriculture or a particular agricultural or manufacturing sector.
The regional Hazard Mitigation Plan is another component that can help strengthen the economy by addressing how to handle various environmental disasters. The Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy and Hazard Mitigation Plan have not been discussed in a symbiotic manner previously. In fact, neither document is widely known to stakeholders within those areas of expertise, let alone the larger community. This needs to change so that each plan can focus on mutual components that serve the community’s needs. Education and implementation are essential to a plan’s success and viability. Awareness and communication then become a central focus.
Many other factors, discussed below, enter into the complex and ever changing process of building a resilient regional economy. Understanding the importance of resiliency and investing in strategies to enhance and strengthen the region will define its success or failure in an event.
Regional partnerships and diversification make the local economy less vulnerable to adverse conditions or unexpected developments occurring in only one sector. As demonstrated in this section, there are many components to the Southside Planning District’s economic development strategy geared toward strengthening existing economic clusters and targeting new employment sectors. There are numerous efforts to attract new industries, promote business expansion, and further develop programs directed at increasing employment skills and knowledge. All of these efforts increase the region’s resiliency and mitigate the type of economic vulnerability it has experienced so vividly over the past two decades.