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Virginia Cooperative Extension -
 Knowledge for the CommonWealth

Increasing the Capacity of Rural Communities for Success in the Global Economy

Farm Business Management Update, December 2000

By David Lamie

Dave Lamie, Pam Gibson, and Gary Larrowe facilitated a community economic development educational process that engaged nearly all sectors of Carroll County. The Carroll County School Board, Carroll County Board of Supervisors, Carroll County Industrial Development Authority, the Town of Hillsville, the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce, the Galax-Carroll-Grayson Chamber of Commerce, the Virginia Tech Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, and Virginia Cooperative Extension jointly sponsored "Take Charge Carroll County."

"Take Charge Carroll County" is increasing the level of understanding of the socio-economic forces affecting Carroll County. Strengths and shortcomings of the county are assessed. A vision for the future of Carroll County is being developed. Five citizen-led study groups whose role is to study issues that are fundamental to the future success of Carroll County were formed. These study groups are:

  1. Citizens Advocating Preservation and Progress - to look at land use and other environmental issues identified in the program,
  2. Carroll Focus 2020 - a citizen-led economic development committee,
  3. EDU Tech 2020 - focuses on integrating appropriate technology into the K-12 system,
  4. Carroll County Highlands Alive - a citizen-led tourism and cultural committee, and
  5. Growing Carroll County - focuses on community development, local government, county facilities, and recreational opportunities.

These interest groups have already met several times; the entire Take Charge assembly meets on a quarterly basis.

To facilitate trust-enhancing, transparent communication between these committees, Brian Ward from the Ag, Human, and Natural Resources Information Technology group assisted in developing a web-based community network tool. These committees are beginning to post minutes of their meetings and other items at

During the Take Charge program, the abundant interest in closing the digital divide for Carroll County was apparent. As part of the follow up to the initial program, Andy Cohill from the Blacksburg Electronic Village (BEV) met with the Carroll County Take Charge participants. Subsequently, Carroll County has contracted with BEV to create a Carroll County electronic village.

The Take Charge program has enhanced trust and communication between county residents, enhanced cooperation amongst organizations and individuals, allowed for innovative uses of existing resources and more thoughtful decisions on a number of levels. This program has created a fertile climate and a favorable relationship between Carroll County and Virginia Tech whereby additional applied research that addresses local issues can be undertaken to help Carroll County develop a prosperous and sustainable future.

To discuss whether the Take Charge program is appropriate for you community, please contact Dave Lamie by phone at (540) 231-5447 or by e-mail at

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