I was waiting for my eye doctor to call me in for my appointment when I spied a copy of The Atlantic on the table with a feature article titled “How America is Putting Itself Back Together.” As First Community Development works in the field of helping communities plan and execute campaigns to revitalize their towns and cities, it caught my attention.

This was no ordinary article, but rather it was the summation of three years of a very unique way of study by James and Deborah Fallow. They chose to visit some 700 towns and cities – by private plane.

Yes, it seems many Americans are discouraged with what they see from the general news media. Stories like San Bernardino, California, home to one of more notorious terrorist attacks in 2012 are sensationalized. I was surprised to learn that San Bernardino was a percolating disaster waiting to happen on many fronts. The city had recently been bankrupt, crime was up, income was low. The downtown area was nearly deserted and described as outright dangerous at night.

What isn’t shown on the news? Cooperation among local government, civic leaders, and corporate sponsorship that have effected a change.

A grass roots effort from a group that became known as “Generation Now”, is turning adversity into opportunity. San Bernardino is once again a place others desire to come to live, work and play.

How, you might ask? They cleaned up neighborhoods. They empowered artists to create murals to cover over eyesore buildings and walls, and they simply inspired local citizens to get engaged.

A local engineer with support from General Dynamics developed a program for high school students to obtain national level certifications in advanced manufacturing (robotics, 3-D printing, numerically controlled machine tools). Graduates now are going from high school to hi-tech manufacturing jobs and those high paying jobs are staying local.

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The recovery doesn’t surprise me. At First Community Development, we work with the leadership from local citizens, business, and governments to forge a common solution set for your project. All over America it seems people are figuring out how to bypass the negative national conversations and step in and improve the narrative for their towns and cities.

The South is garnering its fair share of turnarounds and outright growth. The Golden Triangle in Mississippi is now home to world class steel manufacturing that is paying median wages approaching $80,000 per year.

Do you want to change your city? You don’t have to go it alone. You can partner with people who have experience in developing and executing the right plan for your effort. First Community Development has been involved in projects to promote economic growth in Kentucky, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, and of course, our home state of Georgia.