Vision Shared, a group created in 2000 to make West Virginia more economically competitive, recently issued its 2009 annual report.
Like the organization itself, the report is a mile wide and an inch deep. You have to skip to the top of page 12 (and can stop at the bottom of page 13) of the 18 page report to find a discussion of the group’s accomplishments during 2009. The highlights listed:
- Early Child Development. They issued a report with some recommendations. No discussion of accomplishments in improving early child development.
- Creative Communities. They held a conference. Again no discussion of accomplishments in creating or sustaining creative communities.
- Technology Based Economic Development. They created yet another free-standing non-profit organization – TechConnectWV. Again no discussion of accomplishments in bringing technology-based economic development to West Virginia.
- Entrepreneurship. They launched the Young Entrepreneurs Support (YES) Network. Clever acronym, but what does it do? And, yes, they created a business “plan” to focus on marketing West Virginia-made consumer goods. How many new entrepreneurs do we have as a result of these efforts? How many jobs have been created?
- Building Bridges and Empowering Citizens. They supported the growth of yet another group – Generation West Virginia – and yet another conference for group participants.
- Results-Based Government. They supported the creation of another state government agency, GO HELP, to coordinate governmental health care entities. Much like the much-ballyhooed and failed Governor’s Cabinet on Children and Families?
- Permitting. They crowed about legislation, passed in 2008, to make it easier for new entrepreneurs to find the information they need to engage in business in West Virginia. It’s called Business4WV, folks, and it’s been around for a while. Although not perfect, it’s very good and facilitated quite easily my entry into the small business world this past year. Surely no one seriously thinks West Virginians with the talent, drive, and ideas to create going business enterprises don’t create them because it’s hard to comply with basic business filing, permitting, and tax requirements.
What did Vision Shared accomplish? More plans, reports with recommendations, and conferences? Another notoriously-difficult-to-sustain 501(c)(3) organization, another state government “coordinating” agency with little real power, and another solution to a business problem that doesn’t exist? These are not meaningful accomplishments for a group that has been in “business,” literally and figuratively, for more than a decade.