It never hurts to pause for a moment and acknowledge a pillar when it comes to keeping the roof from crashing down on us.
When it comes to our local workforces, the more we can understand and appreciate the pillars that keep our economic shelters dry and shining, the more we’re able to build for the future.
Let’s be clear. In addition to our sterling natural environment, remarkable proximity to major population centers, and vibrant small business landscape, one of our strongest economic pillars is the strength and capability of our Hispanic working communities.
There is no restaurant, boat yard, construction site, cleaning company, landscape team, or fish house that thrives without the hard work and dedication of our Latino neighbors.
In a region historically famous for immigration, our proud reality is that our Hispanic and Latino families are in many ways our working pillars.
Sound Strategy is thankful, grateful, and happy to celebrate it. Especially as we head into this weekend, when the Sixth Annual Festival Latino de Ocracoke is taking place.
In fact, one of the most valuable working capabilities in our region right now might be language fluency – to be bilingual in both Spanish and English is to be an effective human multiplier.
Educational opportunities abound in this regard, whether it’s “English as a second language” courses in a host of different delivery formats and learning environments, or Spanish language immersion programs in our schools, speaking Spanish is increasingly important in our overwhelmingly dominant service industry.
This is an important area of focus for our so-called “iron triangle” economic development formula as well (housing, healthcare, and education).
Things like workforce housing and great healthcare matter in a more nuanced sense here. Note the great work of the Dare County Community Care Clinic, for example, in addressing some of these challenges by the horns in a graceful and effective way.
Nandy Stuart, the stellar and bilingual chief operating officer at the Outer Banks Community Foundation, notes as well some Hispanic coalitions that are making progress in surfacing the needs and impacts within the Spanish-language community that our region can directly support with an eye toward both sustaining and growing our workforce.
So, let’s start by acknowledging that in our visitor economy, every day is Hispanic Heritage Day.
Let’s highlight the great work done by so many of our Spanish-speaking families in helping our region shine.
Let’s also identify the local ways in which bilingual language fluency can be developed. In schools, in churches, and above all shoulder to shoulder.
Let’s lastly think broadly about the unique challenges of housing, healthcare, and education to our residents when it comes to pure accessibility.
We have a responsibility to those who, through their effort, support our economy to make sure that the benefits of it are within easy reach.
Thank you to our Spanish speakers for moving us all forward. Without you, we wouldn’t be the place we are today and Sound Strategy celebrates your contributions toward making the Outer Banks “America’s Seashore”.
WOBX Publisher Clark Twiddy is the author of Outer Banks Visionaries: Building North Carolina’s Oceanfront which is now available at local bookstores and online. This is his second book about the Outer Banks. “Sound Strategy”, a weekly commentary from Twiddy, features issues, ideas and information focused on our mission statement of “Covering the Business News of the Greater Outer Banks”.