Small Community Development Institutes

“The significant problems that we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.”  Albert Einstein

Effective measures of every rural economic development effort should be: 

  • What we are doing to increase our population?
  • What are we doing to decrease poverty? 

Since rural counties across the country have lost more population than gained, this quote and goal should be in every conversation of every rural board, organization, and business if there is to be growth in rural America.

Gil Gillespie, retired professor of sociology at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, points out, “population and poverty are complex issues with many causes. Population is important, but having a citizenry with a good balance of ages, a high rate of good livelihoods from their own businesses and employers, and interest in and commitment to the locality, are also needed."

    This pyramid shows where new jobs are created, but most economic development programs are geared to recruit “that” business to town so we can create “good” jobs. If we attract “that” business, it may be good for the community, but a loss for the community “that” business left. We’ve just shifted location, and perpetuated a win-lose game plan.

    Small business is the backbone of this country, creating 98 percent of all jobs on Main Street, in our neighborhoods, and countryside. Rural communities must undergo cultural transition in their economic development mentality that recruiting businesses will be our saving grace for jobs, because rural communities don’t have the workforce and can’t afford to give away the taxes required to compete to get corporations to locate in their town.

    Small communities must work differently – together – to grow, and may have to work around “good ol’ boys” clubs. Leaders may say, “We don’t have to do anything different, we're already doing this.” Recruitment approaches and decades-old methods of attraction worked then, but if still the primary form of economic development, communities lose population, schools, hospitals, and youth.

    What's needed: a systematic process for small community development

    Communities need a systemic, organized entrepreneurial process that allows people to explore business creation, ownership, and succession. There are resources to create pieces of the system such as business plans, financial statements, goal-setting, and pots of revolving loan funds. However, the best approach is a complete ecosystem that instructs, supports, and nourishes business owners AND a community who buys their goods and services.

    Processes that begin steady, consistent, long-term cultural transition to increase new leadership, address long-term, cultural issues and bring historically "warring" communities together see lasting success. Using bottoms-up, relationship-building, image-changing, sustainable approaches to grow rural areas, these Institutes build civility and have great growth benefits through building and strengthening relationships within and between communities.

    What can I do?

    Think of your community. Are any of these issues being addressed at your city council/board of supervisors/economic development team/school board meeting or coffee shop?

    • Do you have young people that are engaging in leadership positions and new ideas being promoted?
    • How do does your community get along with neighboring towns? Collaborate or resent? Why? Is it beneficial to either of you?
    • Are elected officials talking about population decline and increasing poverty? More importantly, what is being done about it?
    • Is economic development being done the same way as it has for the last 100 years? What's happening?
    • How are attitudes? What is said of each community and the county? What do you say about it? Your youth? If asked by a stranger, “What is great about living here?” and the answer is, “There’s nothing to do here, I can’t wait to get out,” is that the message to send guests who could be looking to bring a family and/or business?
    • What about income opportunities? Not everyone is cut out to work for someone else. Do you encourage and support people starting or own businesses?

    Rural economic development must address people and poverty. Approaches must change if rural America is to grow. 

    Learn how with Global Horizons' Small Community Development Institutes. 

    Cultural Transition Institutes

    Cultural Transition Institutes

    High Schools - Rural Community Job Creators

    Growing our economy and saving our schools and communities can be done by creating high schools that teach young people they don’t have to work for a big company or for other people. Teach them that owning their own business is a possibility and, in fact, is a local strategy that will grow the economy. The best way to accelerate our job creation rate is to embrace and support policies in all levels of the political spectrum that create entrepreneurs. This is especially critical in today's job market, where change is taking place so rapidly, it's challenging to know what "jobs" will be available in the next three to five years. Especially in rural communities, business creation and succession are easier to determine and execute.

    If we really want to make a difference in our economy and grow our towns, we must focus on entrepreneurship in our schools and towns. Don’t just create an entrepreneurship "class." Create a holistic entrepreneurship school that incorporates entrepreneurship practices into the core curriculum and an ecosystem in the community to support entrepreneurship.

    We need:

    • to encourage people to dream.
    • to help talented individuals start companies that create business models that grow big-, medium-, small-sized, sustainable organizations.
    • to encourage students to create local jobs by owning local businesses.
    • to support them to grow regionally and globally.
    • entrepreneurship schools that give students alternative curriculum that teaches the components of business planning and use their youthful creativity to design the future.
    • holistic schools that engage youth to develop as local leaders, energizing them through entrepreneurship and business growth.
    • policies and new traditions that include youth in decision making for family-friendly communities.
    • to teach the importance of philanthropy and giving back locally.

    Many of our towns are losing population. Schools are losing enrollment, and budgets are shrinking. We can turn around this trend by giving our youth an alternative to working for others and an alternative of having to move away to get a good job. That alternative is owning their own business and locating in the town where they are educated. 

    Imagine a school in your town that incubates business ideas and business models that will spin out to locate on Main Street or can be run from a home using the community’s local technology, contributing to and growing your local tax base!

    Do your students see a future for themselves?

    Gallup identified the reason students drop out of school and disengage in education: they have lost all hope in graduating. They cannot see how the education they are getting will lead them to where they want to go. Students will engage in their education when they see how it will provide them with a good job and a chance for a good life. For many, it is giving them hope that their “good job” will be created by their own creativity and the realization that they can own their own business.

    Innovation itself doesn’t create sales. The entrepreneur is the connector, the person who envisions a valuable product or concept and its customer, and then creates a business model and strategy that creates sales and profit.

    This isn’t just a school’s issue. For many towns and cities, it is a community survival issue.

    Entrepreneurship is a long-term commitment that needs the support of the local community, local school district, coupled with state policy support. From his book, The Coming Jobs War, Jim Clifton, chairman of Gallup, states, “If you were to ask me, from all of Gallup’s data and research on entrepreneurship, what will most likely tell you if you are winning or losing your city, my answer would be, ‘5th-12th-graders’ image of and relationship to free enterprise and entrepreneurship.’ If your city doesn’t have growing economic energy in your 5th-12th-graders, you will experience neither job creation, nor city GDP growth.”

     Entrepreneurship schools in our education system is a must and needs to be a supported strategy by leadership on all policy levels for our healthy, growing, successful future.

    Who powers your town?

    The dominant theme on any news is how “bad” big business is and how many employees “they” have added or taken away. Many people think that this country is run by “big business,” but actually, our country is really run and dominated by small- and medium-sized businesses. Ninety-eight percent of a community’s new jobs are created by businesses you see on your Main Street, home- based businesses that are a part of your town’s hidden economy, and many other of your existing businesses that you count on to meet your needs.

    Clifton continues, “as of 2007, there were about six million businesses in the United States with at least one employee; businesses with 500 or fewer employees represent more than 99% of these six million. There are slightly more than 88,000 companies with 100 to 500 employees and about 18,000 with 500 to 10,000 workers – and only about 1,000 companies with more than 10,000 employees.”

    Math says, of six million U.S. companies, only 107,000 of them have more than 100 employees. That leaves 5,893,000 businesses with fewer than 100 employees.

    We work with communities on many different levels time in very rural areas. We’ve watched communities spend many thousands of dollars to “steal” companies from other towns, thus creating a neutral net gain of jobs in the economy. Many of those companies, after they have used up their tax advantages from relocating, will look elsewhere to gain more tax advantages and their loyalty to that community ends as soon as they receive a better deal, if there was any loyalty to begin with.

    This is not just about taxes or regulations, though those are important components to the economy. Our focus is about teaching young people from a very early age that there is an alternative to working for someone else and that is creating your own business and products and working for yourself.

      According to Clifton, “the United States has successfully invented and commercialized between 30% and 40% of all breakthroughs worldwide, throughout virtually all categories, in the last 200+ years.”

      That is a startling statistic when you really think about what that means.  We have a culture of creativity and invention. We also have a culture of taking those inventions to market.

      That takes an entrepreneur.

      Who are your entrepreneurs?

      It appears to us we have been losing "entrepreneurial spirit" in our creative business cycle. Many community businesses are third-generation owners, passed down in families, leading to many of our communities and leaders losing their entrepreneurial culture, innovation, and drive.

      Entrepreneurs are the bridge to the innovations and those customers that will use the products, and the business model is everything! You can have all the inventions and innovative products in the world, but without the business model the entrepreneur creates to bring a product to market, new inventions and innovations sit on the shelf.

      Entrepreneurs are those who usually start businesses, but teaching entrepreneurship in school also introduces the concept of “intrapreneurship.” Intrapreneurs work inside companies and are the brains and energy behind creating customers.

      An entrepreneur/intrapreneur will create business models that will identify more customers and create innovative ways to address local, commercial, and social concerns.

      Who do YOU see has a great idea that can become a successful business for your community?

      If you'd like to explore ideas for your school and community, we're here!

      Rural America, You Have So Much Potential

      Growing up, my mother was told by my teachers that “I had so much potential!” The problem was I did not see my potential because I had such a limited view of myself and my teachers did nothing to pull what potential they saw out of me.  

      It's the same with our communities. We cannot see from the inside what others see from the outside. We must draw out potential. 

      I have a passion to build rural America because for more than 30 years, I have seen the innovation, passion, drive, business sense, and heart of people who love where they live and want others to love it. I have seen and know the potential of rural America - it's vastly more than agriculture! 

      The result about potential is that rural America’s counties are losing more population than gaining.  The problem is not lack of buildings or industrial parks, bike paths, or lack of jobs.

      The key to building rural America is relationships.

      Communities must recognize and knock down the "walls" built through many years being jealous of other communities. For holding grudges from long-ago athletic competitions or school mergers where one community did not “get the building.” For family feuds created from generations of animosity toward each other. I know of one community who festered for 100 years before they realized how to grow.

      You can draw out potential in your community by including new people who bring new ideas, new directions, and creative approaches to old problems. 

      People will stay when they:

      • feel they belong. 
      • know that they belong to something bigger, with a vision for a better future.
      • see themselves as equal participants in community growth. 
      • know why the community is a good fit for them.
      • know that the community has a sense of purpose.

      The role of community leaders is not to come up with the great idea, but to create an environment in which great ideas can happen, are encouraged, and are supported.

      Ask these questions of your "newer" citizens to help your community see itself through the eyes of another, perhaps one whose grandparents aren't buried in the cemetery.
      •    How long have you lived in this community?
      •    Why do you think we continue to exist as a community?
      •    For whom do you think we are a good community?
      •    Tell me a time when you did not feel you belonged/were welcome in this community.

      When you open your environment to Welcome, Understand, Comfort, and Appreciate new people, new ideas and creative approaches to old problems, your school will increase enrollment, your tax base will increase, and you will have more volunteers. 

      Want to draw out potential in your community? Check here for more ideas and call us to grow, 712-250-0275; kim@ghorizons.com.  http://www.bewuca.com/blog/relationship-economic-development-wuca-ize-your-community

       

      Steps to Build Wealth in America's Rural Communities

      Has your area grown in the last 100 years? Areas across the United States have not grown in population for more than 100 years, as rural communities have struggled how to address economic development, create more of a workforce and build population. We've learned that a community has a personality just as an individual does and to change how it looks at the world requires time, persistence, and a willingness to change the way they look at things.

      Our experience tells us it takes at least a three-year commitment to change a community's personality and outlook. These super-fun, interesting processes are critical building blocks to begin a steady, consistent, long-term relationship-building, image-changing, sustainable plan to grow rural areas. Great benefits come for rural areas in this bottoms-up approach to community growth through building and strengthening relationships within and between communities!

      Relationship Economic Development WUCA!-izes communities to:

      • prepare for newcomers,
      • learn skills to talk through community issues that positively guide the future,
      • learn more about their own area - how each community is unique and complements one another,
      • identify, invite, and welcome those from around the globe who want to live in rural areas, and
      • grow populations and business sectors.

      Leadership Development

      This 24+-hr classroom experience is available for up to 25 community members per class. This in-depth walk through our book and its exercises, The Be WUCA! Way, The ART of getting alongseeks to ingrain soft skills that lead to workforce and people engagement. When people truly walk this lifestyle, their personal and professional environments and relationships will change. When perceptions change, behavior changes, one person at a time. We recommend that a notable number of the starting class is selected from service sector employees in convenience stores and restaurants. These front-line managers and service industry professionals are often the front-door to any community and the impression a visitor/potential new business receives.

      For faster results, we can train as many groups as desired.

      Public Policy Institute

      We’ll teach the art of deliberative dialogue to talk through wicked issues, not just about them – like school issues and immigration.

      This powerful tool is the approach for schools, communities, business, families, and organizations to participate in the art of civic engagement in each school district. It’s powerful because dialogue includes the voices and values of all who want to participate – the more divergent, the more powerful. The outcome of these conversations will provide common ground to overcome school, workforce, and all critical community growth issues.

      We’ve led hundreds of dialogues, including 108 separate ones in the four caucus/primary states. The report informed then-presidential candidates of citizen voice on healthcare and financial security.

      We’ve written/helped write local and national issue books including county economic development, education, eminent domain and more. One we led with high school students on America’s Role in the World was included in the 50th anniversary of The Dartmouth Conference on U.S./Russia relations.

      Professional Development for School Staff / community/Kickoff Back-to-School Speaker

      Lead the year with a one-day training The Be WUCA! Way. This will set the stage for expectations and opportunities during the school year to impact thousands between staff, administration, students, and families.

      Deliberative Dialogues

      Held in each community of the school district, these dialogues will focus on workforce development and community growth. Using their training from the Public Policy Institute (above), community members will be able to co-moderate, record, observe, and be part of writing the report from value-based conversations that seek win-win outcomes, that, again, talk through issues, not just about them. This training will equip citizens on how to tackle the tough issues they face.

      Community Builders – March-September/October

      Community Builders is a fast, easy, super-fun way to change the environment of an area. From the March kickoff meeting through community tours and educational components during April/May – October, we’ll focus on technology infrastructure the first year in each area. This process allows communities to dig deep into their area and showcase what makes them proud.

      We’ll repeat each year with a different focus, and beyond, if desired. It’s critical for sustainability and new ideas to bring in new people each year to create the town tours and to continue changing the culture through what is learned.

      Years Two & Three begin the cycle again, with new professional development topics, participants, and more intentional connection with entrepreneurship in the school districts to impact student achievement and outcomes for students and communities.

      Individual business session:                                                                Employees Leave Managers, Not Companies

      This one-day session is designed to present a core WUCA! message for employee engagement and application for increased workplace productivity, customer service, and expansion.

      Coaching in the Classroom (CIC): year-round

      Global Horizons will be in the classroom once a week to focus on workforce development and entrepreneurship that nurtures great ideas from a student into potential businesses and connect them strongly with the business community. During three years at a rural Iowa school district, we reduced their high school “at-risk” population from 41% to 12% by teaching workplace skills.

      Contact Global Horizons to begin your three-year cycle           repopulate your community!