Tri-State approach makes greater whole

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 25, 2010

It is often been said that the Ohio River divides our states. A more positive perspective is that this is what links us together.

That is the concept behind the Leadership Tri-State organization that works to break down these barriers and bring together business professionals from all three states.

LTS’s mission statement is that it “promotes social and economic development through advanced leadership training, networking and forums designed to lead the Tri-State to a better tomorrow.”

The alumni list reads like a Who’s Who of community leaders in virtually every career or business and is far too expansive to list here.

Executive Director Sharon Walker has asked me to participate in this professional development program for years and I finally found the time to do so this year, participating in the orientation and first session last week.

While the networking and leadership training is important, perhaps the most valuable component is breaking down the stereotype that all three states are separate and cannot work together.

This is an important goal and one that can help create a vision of unity rather than division.

Although Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia all work for individual success we must find a way to pool our resources.

Aspects of life in all three states permeate the others and it is impossible to separate the three.

The uniqueness of all three communities complement each other.

But that doesn’t mean that Lawrence County can just sit back and hope for spillover success from Ashland or Huntington.

I don’t think we are doing that and programs like LTS help strengthen that resolve to build the individual components by taking a team approach and a “one community” vision.

Last week’s session featured tour of a river terminal, historic Ashland home district, the Highland’s Museum and Discovery Center and a roleplaying session focused on negotiations.

One part that stood out was listening to Steve Gilmore, former Ashland mayor and the current superintendent of schools.

Gilmore talked a lot about how to lead by example, even when making tough choices. He also talked about how you can make a difference in the world both professionally and personally, something I have always felt are far more closely related than many people believe.

“It is not enough to be a good person, you have to do good things,” Gilmore said, loosely quoting author Henry David Thoreau.

The Tri-State itself is a perfect example where the whole is truly greater than the sum of its parts. Or, if you prefer, each state has much to offer on its own but, as a region and one community, there is no limit to what we can achieve.

Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Tribune. To reach him, call (740) 532-1445 ext. 24 or by e-mail at mike.caldwell@irontontribune.com.