Building a regional economic alliance’s capability for collective action and impact
The Alliance for Regional Cooperation (ARC) is a nonprofit whose mission is to build a more robust regional economy—enhancing local connections, including rural-urban linkages, across artificial historical boundaries between Maryland, Washington, DC and Virginia. ARC’s initial plans include building an alliance of cooperatives and offering a discount purchasing program for locally owned businesses in the region.
Jim Schulman, ARC’s Executive Manager, approached Kimberley Jutze, Shifting Patterns’ Founder, in 2016 to help design and facilitate a meeting for 20 stakeholders representing local businesses, government agencies, and civil society to explore the potential for strengthening the regional economy through a cooperative model. The outcome of this meeting was the formation of a design team that was tasked with clarifying ARC’s purpose and conducting a needs and opportunities analysis to better understand trends contributing to the outflow of community wealth and identify ways that ARC can put its unique approach to work.
Throughout 2017 Jim and Kimberley worked together to facilitate and support the work of the design team, which met on a regular basis. During this time the design team developed a problem statement to clarify ARC’s niche, drafted a mission statement, reviewed needs assessment reports prepared by economic development consultants, and identified activities ARC could undertake to build thriving, sustainable regional economy in collaboration with locally owned businesses and consumers in the region.
Towards the end of 2018 ARC refined its identity as an incubator of regional initiatives that contribute to sustainable economic development. A board of directors was formed with representatives from the greater Washington, DC region and began the process of incorporating ARC as a nonprofit and securing 501c3 status. In early 2019 Jim asked Kimberley to help the board articulate ARC’s mission and vision of success. As a result of developing mission and vision statements, the board has a guide for decision making and is prepared to effectively communicate ARC’s purpose to funders and other stakeholders.
To learn more about ARC and find out how you can get involved, visit https://allianceforregionalcooperation.wordpress.com.