Relationship Economic Development is an exciting grassroots movement that begins when the whole community learns and implements new ways of relating to the community and each other.
Relationship economic development is more than just creating jobs - it's about creating a wealth environment where businesses, which create jobs, and people, who create quality of life, can thrive. It is about creating a WUCA!-ized community where people feel part of their future because people WELCOME, UNDERSTAND, COMFORT, AND APPRECIATE themselves and each other.
Most communities want to grow but they are not getting ready to accept new people. They tend to want people who look like them, act like them, and have the same ideas as the leadership in the community.
Creation of a WUCA!-ized community is very much a bottom-up approach that begins with leadership. Developing leaders starts with common knowledge and common language. Learning that how you talk, act, and think as a community, creates the culture of the community.
The next element is developing internally, looking inward at how are decisions made and what is the perception of other people. Creating a common interest in how to identify and address issues that effect the whole community. What matters is bringing community together so that the public is involved and feels engaged in the solutions and not just have “politics as usual," or ideas that come from a few "good ol' boys." In fact, the good ol' boy’s club will likely try its best to control and manipulate development for their own purpose.
“Politics as usual” is just another name for conventional politics – good ol' boys, special interest groups, lobbying. In “politics as usual,” communities try to address major problems by breaking the problem down to a manageable form, finding plausible solutions, developing the proper strategy, delegating responsibility to an accountable institution, getting busy with visible activity and "selling" the public on what the leadership has decided is best.
In a WUCA!-ized community, all people get together to work on public problems. It all leads to the creation of wealth, where entrepreneurial opportunities are identified and developed for the good of the whole community.
Reality for Rural Areas
- Declining populations equals increasing costs to our counties.
- Increasing free & reduced need for our students, with fewer overall students, equals increased student/family services and higher school costs, raising a major strain on every community’s health and viability.
- Need to grow broadband and educate the public on its multiple uses for business and community growth.
Solution for Rural Areas - Use Relationship Economic Development to repopulate rural America through technology.
Multi-Year, Multi-Prong, Concurrent Approach
1. Prepare communities how to engage newcomers and the ideas, culture, and ways of life they bring. Engaging and training communities in creating a welcoming environment is key to implementation.
1. Identify and recruit people globally in the 30 – 49- age range, who have or want to start Internet-based businesses. This age group is looking for the environment of our rural communities in great schools, affordable housing, clean air, clean water, safety, and a huge emphasis on connectivity to technology and the Internet, to name a few top issues. Research shows when this age group grows, so does the range of children 10 – 14 years of age.
This process relies heavily on the incredible network and investments made by rural telephone companies conducive for telecommuters and entrepreneurs.
For example, in Cass County, Iowa, because of training received through a well-used, successful engagement process called Community Builders we will use in this pilot project, a family moved from western Massachusetts to Cumberland, IA, a town of 257. Because community participants knew about the excellent Internet infrastructure of their rural telephone companies, they could confidently talk with this family about the availability of needed Internet service that enjoys the connectivity of Los Angeles or New York.
Initially pursuing a place they could hobby farm, the Dad travels the world, working remotely for an IT company as a coder, serves on the city council, and is raising chickens – his dream.
How to do this
Leadership Development Internal Development Wealth Creation
- Train communities to support entrepreneurship and teach students entrepreneurship skills – we have a blueprint and initial experience through our Coaching in the Classroom process. By teaching pertinent skills to 9 – 12th-grade students for three years that connected school to workplace habits, their “at-risk” percentage decreased from 41% to 12%.
- Implement the Community Builders process – in one five-county area, this process created about 250 new jobs in a three-year period.
- Create strong relationships and change the culture and dynamics between communities that may have been damaged by athletic competition, county charter arguments, and/or school mergers.
- Teach communities, businesses, families, organizations the art of value-based dialogue to move contentious issues forward.
- Create systems to use social networking to build relationships with 30 – 49-year-olds who would love to live in safe communities and build a global business.
- Capture the transfer of wealth, using it to build and support new enterprises.
A minimum three-year commitment to determine real results. The locations require solid support from telephone companies, utilities, government, and school districts wanting to expand their customer/student base and welcome new home-based and Main Street businesses within and around their service area communities.
Some of many benefits
- ROI for utility/city/county infrastructure investment
- Grow schools
- Encourage home-based businesses
- Fill homes
- Invigorate pride and community sense of self
- Increase Main Street storefronts
This a great, feasible idea
We are absolutely, completely, confident that this does work but it will require commitment and effort on the part of all to welcome newcomers. People and families are searching for safe and viable communities to call home and rural America has what they seek.
Communities that want to grow need to create Be WUCA! opportunities - and individuals need to step up - and become involved!
Make WUCA!-izing your community your responsibility. Take the first steps now- you don't have to see the whole staircase!