We are often our own worst enemy.

When our community runs into trouble our instinctive reaction is to look for solutions in isolation rather than in collaboration.

Recently, a group of communities including the Town of Hanna, the Village of Youngstown and a region known as Special Areas was hit hard by the closure of two major companies that had provided significant employment and taxes to the area. There was initial hope a new government would turn things around but that didn’t alter the reality of their situation. Hope in the community morphed into frustration a sense of despair. We have seen this before in communities all around North America.

The mental and emotional stress of such challenges can cause resentment between community populations and motivate municipalities to isolate themselves from each other. We often observe communities focusing on protecting and preserving the limited resources they have. They begin to fight with each other like hungry coyotes desperately seeking the last scrap of meat from a carcass. However, these communities didn’t do that.

Displaying great foresight, they had already banded together to form an economic development arm called the Cactus Corridor Economic Development Corporation. The Cactus Corridor became the glue that held them together through this crisis.

They explored new opportunities to attract people, businesses and industries. They pooled their resources in ways that would benefit the region. When support dollars appeared to help them through the tough transition, they didn’t fight over them. In collaboration they chose investment priorities that complimented each community’s strengths and allowed them to grow . . . together.

Their battle is not over. Like many communities that face tough challenges they will need to keep working hard to turn their situation around but they each know their community is worth the effort. They also know fighting with each other will get them nowhere. Their success depends on collaboration not isolation. That makes them unique, and that gives them a better chance than others to turn the corner. That is why this group of communities is this month’s Success in Progress.