So back to the question which was: "Do our colleagues working in the area of economic development and more specifically those organizations formed to address the macro area of economic development understand the value of community foundations in our region?" My immediate answer was: "they don't care." What thankfully ensued was an inspiring discussion.
The trustee was focusing on our work in improving the general health and well-being of our community that plays a key role in retaining businesses and to enhance the community culture to attract businesses! He basically was making the point that community foundations do and can make a significant difference in shaping the competitive advantage of our region.
I do know that our economic development colleagues do care and I trust that the community foundation leaders in West Michigan will demonstrate our value to our respective communities in many areas that include work force development, improving high school graduation rates, environmental concerns, creating affordable housing, encouraging the growth of arts and culture, and so much more.