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

 

Create Wealth with Community Builders

All across our rural regions, schools are struggling with cutting budgets due to declining enrollment, districts are facing decisions to close buildings and move students to schools in other towns and neighborhoods. Young people are moving to economic opportunities elsewhere. Families face low-wage jobs as poverty levels continue an upward trend.

Community and economic development need to be more than just about creating jobs. It's about creating an environment where businesses - which create jobs - and people - who create quality of life - can thrive.

It's about locally creating a place where people are part of their future.

This is where wealth is created.

Healthy relationships between people establish the basis where true economic development can happen. In a grassroots, values-based leadership program called Community Builders, wealth is created. Residents better understand and build their communities and local economies by knowing their assets, needs, and intentionally create wealth and jobs.

Here’s why wealth creation matters:

· the “walls” come down between communities and animosities disappear. This allows new ideas to flow.

· new, much-needed income from business-to-business opportunities appears.

· youth are integrated into community leadership positions, encouraging involvement and commitment to the community.

· while agriculture is, and will remain an important part of the rural economy, it need no longer hold life and death power over a community's economy.

· pro-active, positive attitudes improve quality of life in communities.

· change happens everywhere. Managing change is key to successful transition and growth.

· new ways of looking at development better supports and nurtures economic, entrepreneurship, employment, and social development at local and regional levels.

· collaboration between communities creates a peer support network and friendship links across a region, promoting an “it’s good for all of us” mentality to achieve common economic goals.

· economic success in rural communities is tied directly to investment in rural leadership.

Here's how it works.

Community Builders is a terrific, interactive, fun, unique, action-learning process focused within a geographic region between or within communities, businesses, schools, organizations, and individuals. It's designed to promote unity when people become more aware of each other, entertainment, opportunities, and area businesses. It works fabulously between towns in a county or between multiple counties.

It creates an environment where trusting relationships build, attitudes change, jobs and wealth are created, and entrepreneurial spirit flourishes!

The process is flexible and did you catch this is FUN?

Community Builders  begins with a kickoff session uniquely crafted from 28 years of experience with a core group of people interested in new ways to develop their towns in a region. The presentation explains the background, what to expect, the importance of Community Builders, and what it can do for an area. At the end of the presentation, those communities who want to participate select a date for their town’s tour. Participants usually include six to 10 communities with people from each community as committed representatives for the length of the process.

Now creativity begins - there are no rules for what happens next!

At least monthly - depending on how many participate - representatives from each town visit the town hosting that month’s tour. Much like a tour you'd share with someone who wants to move to your town, guests learn about businesses, their product/s, employee base, sales area, and any other information the business wants to share. Schools, tourist stops, historical landmarks - anything special to that community - are included. The final stop for the evening includes a meal and program pertinent to the community's needs. The tours continue through the summer until all the towns have been visited.

A key focus of Community Builders is to foster collaboration and connections between communities. A regular discussion theme relates to ways of strengthening these bonds, thus ensuring 'win-win' for all communities.

What is learned through Community Builders  is that even the tiniest towns have exceptional treasures! Lifelong residents discover numerous companies with international scope, and more “Main Street” and home-based businesses than you thought you had! Notably, your residents will be filled with pride and amazed at the great town they call home!

When residents speak highly of their hometown and area - these days globally - you are utilizing the very best and least expensive economic development tool: word of mouth!

The process is simple. 1) Engage every member of your community, 2) connect with towns around you, and 3) you will create wealth!

It takes a village to engage a workforce!