June 1, 2023

Storm Cunningham
Executive Director of RECONOMICS Institute
1629 K Street NW, Suite 300
Washington, DC 20006, USA


Government, business and non-profit leaders are invited to support new tools for equitable, resilient economic growth..

RECONOMICS Institute today announced the Pre-Launch phase of its new RISING PLACES initiative. With an emphasis on engaging entrepreneurs and local youth, it provides communities with the tools they need to create inclusive, resilient economic growth. This is the first technology specifically created to integrate the renewal of economic, social and environmental assets.

Opportunities exist for national Corporate Sponsors and Institutional Partners. Becoming a Sponsor or Partner is probably the fastest, easiest way for organizations to satisfy many of their ESG goals.. 

But the heart of RISING PLACES is at the community level. Local leaders, businesses, non-profits or public agencies can give all residents of their community free, permanent access to RISING PLACES Tools by becoming the Local RISING PLACES BenefactorThese leading-edge tools educate, activate and monitor progress. 

The Benefactors’ generosity is rewarded with a thank-you banner, which runs for 5 years on that community’s RISING PLACES web page. They also receive free RISING PLACES Planner scholarships, so local youths, professionals and public leaders can become certified. 

Being the Local RISING PLACES Benefactor puts them at the heart of a brighter local future, generating awareness and goodwill for their work. There’s only one RISING PLACES Benefactor per community, so this is a powerful opportunity for local leaders—elected, business, non-profit or citizen—to serve the public and boost their organization or career simultaneously. 

These new tools enable residents and local governments to easily cooperate with each other in making their community a magnet for public and private funding—and employers—to boost income and quality of life for all.

The use of online tools for home-grown renewal probably started in 2011, when the world was both shaken and inspired when the oppressive government of Tunisia was overthrown by social media-powered citizens. Similar uprisings quickly followed in Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Syria and Bahrain, overthrowing despots like Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Muammar Gaddafi, Hosni Mubarak and Ali Abdullah Saleh. But a lasting shift for the better failed to manifest. Social media helped get rid of the past, but couldn’t create a better local future.

Now, a new breed of online tools takes the opposite approach. The 12 RISING PLACES Tools—which comprise 6 Discovery Tools and 6 Roadmap Toolsharness citizen power (especially youth) to support local governments in making the economic, social and environmental changes that improve the economy and quality of life for all.

RISING PLACES is an initiative of Washington, DC-based RECONOMICS Institute: The Society of Revitalization & Resilience Professionals, a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization. Its Executive Director is Storm Cunningham, who was in Tunisia meeting with local activists shortly before the Arab Spring.

Cunningham says: “Over 90% of community revitalization efforts fail to make a significant, lasting difference in the local economy or quality of life. The three most common reasons are 1) lack of resources, due to insufficient investment by state/federal agencies, private real estate investors and employers; 2)  lack of understanding among both residents and leaders of the process of creating resilient prosperity; and 3) lack of tools needed to track the forms of economic, social and/or environmental renewal desired by voters, and to track progress towards those goals.

Here’s how RISING PLACES Tools overcome those three fatal obstacles to healthy economic development:

  1. Lack of Resources: The old economic development model of paying employers (by giving away future tax revenues ) to relocate in a community no longer works, since every place offers similar incentives. RISING PLACES Tools use the new model, which has two components. First, it attracts state / federal funding and private real estate investment by creating confidence that the local future will be brighter. Second, it attracts new residents and employers not via expensive ads or incentives, but by making the community a place they want to be.
  2. Lack of Awareness: It’s hard to get voters to support changes leading to revitalization and resilience if they don’t understand why it’s necessary, and how they will benefit. And, it’s hard to affect necessary changes if leaders don’t understand how best to implement them. RISING PLACES Tools educate both leaders and residents in the most effective manner: small bits of knowledge at a time.
  3. Lack of Accurate, Ongoing Feedback: Despite the ubiquity of online polls, social media and Zoom meetings, it’s difficult for elected leaders to ascertain what local residents really want, which increases political risk. RISING PLACES Tools provide meaningful, accurate, ongoing feedback from local citizens in a useful form that focuses on the strategic success factors.

As the RISING PLACES initiative was being created, RECONOMICS Institute recruited some early Founding Benefactors to help develop its tools. They include a Fortune 500 company, elected officials, real estate developers, non-profits, government agencies and entrepreneurs. 

Their motivations for becoming a Local Benefactor include public service (love of their community and its young people), individual career advancement (via local leadership) and organizational growth (by strategically positioning it at the heart of local revitalization and resilience efforts). 

Learn more about RISING PLACES at



Storm Cunningham
Photo: Dr. Maria MacKnight.

Storm Cunningham
Photo: Dave Marcmann.

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