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Monday, October 28, 2013

Economic Development through a Cultural and Financial Lens


In the Hispanic villages of northern New Mexico a quest for the development of culturally appropriate and economically sustainable hubs has created new methodologies.  It was a push to move the villages from a colonial area design to something new and more progressive. The author Kristina Fisher (2008) discusses how business development and agricultural improvement can be fostered through non-profits. 

The War on Poverty and The New Deal created much activity in the region but communities soon when back to their traditional ways of life.  Some questioned the logic of these programs and the ability to raise local Hispanic communities out of poverty. In 25 years since the non-profit Ganado del Velle was created it used the hub and spoke model to create interrelated economic development projects that led to higher levels of local development. 

The model used incubation with hub and spoke model to develop the natural and cultural resources of the valley. Some of their works included concepts such as weave making, marketing outlets, time sharing, resource sharing, entrepreneurship, better farming, and showcasing artistic and food products.  They were able to bring products and services to the local market while raising the income of residents. 

The previous and traditional practices of the local people were no long sufficient for the modern economy. The locals were left in poverty and unable to compete. Success came through four principles:

-Invest in people and empower them to do the work they love. 

-Utilizing and sustaining the natural and cultural resources of the area. 

-Change the economic structure to reduce dependency and increase opportunity. 

-Provide financial support for research, marketing, businesses, and development. 

The Ganados model was seen as a success through its balance of leaders, financing, and hub and spoke non-profits that coordinated entrepreneurial activities. Each non-profit focused on the development of skills and bringing the proper financial resources to the forefront so that individuals could develop businesses. They focused on developing off of the existing culture and methods of the area, created money making avenues, connected their products to the market, and attempted to diversify their productions. A major problem learned in the process is that success did not reach its full potential due to inter-conflict that drew resources away from group members. 

The model was seen as successful to the local people and their financial growth. They were able to take simple farmers and small artisans and find greater outlets for their work by opening a retail outlet within a metropolitan area and showcasing their work.  Each component of the hub was built to enhance the other businesses.  Even though the model used a non-profit it is not confined to that type of entity alone. Any type of business, committee, or other organization may engage in hub development for philanthropic or revenue generating purposes.  It was a process of teaching people how to maximize their profits and providing the outlets to market their products effective.  Some businesses may find value in raising local value of products by bringing them to market and earning a percentage from this increased value making both the individual artisan and the business more financially successful.

Fisher, K. (2008). Reclaiming Querencia: The quest for culturally appropriate environmentally sustainable economic development in Northern New Mexico. Natural Resources Journal, 48 (2).

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