The Community Resilience Model (CRM) was developed in 2000 as a holistic means of aiding communities focus their priorities. Similar to and overlapping with Community Economic Development (CED) models, CRM is made of several interconnected elements and grouped under four dimensions: People, Organizations, Resources, and Community Process. The Saskatchewan Economic Developers’ Association recently commissioned a survey of provincial economic developers to ascertain relationships to their home communities and readiness to implement CRM. Three themes emerged from this survey: developers’ responsibilities, planning habits, and degree of partnerships. Karla Radloff provides an analysis of the survey results in Community Resilience, Community Economic Development, and Saskatchewan Economic Developers.
Regarding the first theme, an overwhelming majority of participants stated that their organizations supported education and training efforts within their community, created and employed strategic plans, communicated with their region’s major employers, and were interested in coordinating their communities’ diverse interests. One area where fewer respondents regarded themselves as being involved was in promoting Aboriginal business planning. As to planning habits, again a high number of those in larger communities stated that they had an open strategic plan in place that was regularly reviewed and updated, and for which they regularly applied for and received government funding. On a less positive note, fewer than half stated that smaller, rural communities had a strategic plan in place, suggesting the need for greater education for municipal organizations as to its value. On the topic of partnerships, participants were asked about the extent of their relationships with other organizational types. Most of those surveyed had a working relationship with a majority of specific organizations (e.g. regional health authority, federal government), but in most cases those relationships were not so strong as to have representatives sit on boards or sub-committees. Relationships were mostly limited to receiving funding or sharing resources, suggesting that such networks need to be better developed and strengthened.
In terms of the first of the four CRM dimensions, people, the survey reveals that economic developers’ were keenly aware of the need for a diverse, interested, knowledgeable, and participatory population. Equally so, respondents were dedicated to the involvement of the second dimension, community organizations. The need for access to resources, the third element, is also suggested by survey results, as respondents stated that they actively pursued fostering resilient community resources. The final dimension, community process, is wholly reliant on pursuit of the other three dimensions. While most CED organizations utilized strategic planning, less than half of their home communities had done the same, suggesting only mixed success.
Overall, the survey reveals that economic developers were already working in the same areas expressed in CRM, likely because of the overlap with CED’s own philosophies. At this stage, greater education, particularly at the municipal government level, is the main area needing improvement to fully integrate CRM into Saskatchewan’s CED efforts.