The South’s economic history is dominated by extractive industry, artificially cheap labor, unbridled economic development, and exploitation of the region’s human and natural resources. As different as the region’s mountain hollers and sea islands may seem demographically, politically and economically, they share this history. The fate of Appalachian coal miners and Lowcountry farmers is linked.
And as nonprofit and community leaders in the Lowcountry and in Appalachia understand, dramatic economic transition for many Southern communities is underway. Community-led economic development organizations are breaking down barriers to access to wealth-building tools for historically excluded Southern communities. They are changing the narrative about the region’s economic past and future. They are capitalizing on the South’s rich assets: its people, its land and its culture.