We are Looking for Committed Communities - Are you one of them?

Are you a rural region looking to grow your small community population and create wealth? Are you a rural region that will do whatever it takes to transition into a growth mindset? We are searching for committed small communities willing to do what it takes to grow, engage, and welcome people, their ideas, and businesses from all over the world. Here is what we are looking for:

Committed Small Community Guidelines

A region of three to six communities commits to:

 1.   Grow population and decrease area poverty.

 2.   Implementing the Small Community Institute process for five (5) years to allow cultural change for growth.

 3.   Change decision-making from a top-down to bottom-up approach using participatory,       community-driven engagement.

 4.   Change economic development philosophy from recruiting companies to recruiting, welcoming, and integrating people.

 5.   Adopt civility resolutions at city, county, school boards.

 6.   Strong telecommunications support and access with active participation by Internet providers.

 7.   Three of the region’s larger businesses are willing to implement the Small Community processes within their company.

 8.   The school district as an active participant that allows student and staff professional development through Global Horizons.

 9.   The hospital/healthcare system as an active participant that allows staff development through Global Horizons.

10.   Invest time, energy, and resources to develop a cooperative, collaborative community spirit.

Communities need to be committed, not just interested in growing. That means doing whatever it takes, whatever is necessary to change. 

Communities that want to grow need to take a risk and find out what all of their community members think. I am not talking about just sending out a survey. I am talking about designing very specific public sessions so all people can come and voice their values-based opinions and then create processes that address community perceptions to turn around your decline. 

It is not easy for chamber of commerce, economic development leaders, or public officials to admit that their town is not a perfect place to live. But, if your community is brave enough to dig into your culture and find out the reasons why your community is not growing, you can turn around your trends to grow your population and create wealth. 

If you are committed to growing wealth in your community, we look forward to talking with you. Contact us now at kim@ghorizons.com!  Let's grow!

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

    Rural Communities: Stuck and Spinning Wheels

    In this blog, the context of “communities” is perceived as any group of individuals

    who work to make life better for all people in all groups.

    Is your community growing in population and new business, or does it feel you are “stuck” and spinning your wheels?

    Do the "good ol' boys" want you to believe they know what’s best to develop the community, even when you are skeptical they are self-motivated, rather than looking out for the good of the whole?

    If you are growing, great! Keep doing what you are doing!

    If you could use some help, here’s a technique to help your community move forward in the best way possible: deliberative dialogue.

    In a Be WUCA! community, all people work on public problems together, like what to do if the school is struggling, or your population is dwindling away. What sets a Be WUCA! community apart is its focus to talk through, not just about its issues using a technique called "deliberative dialogue.”

    This type of conversation gives amazing results because community members talk with each other for mutual understanding, not decision making, to find common ground. You get to hear why an issue is important to your neighbor from their values and experiences, not just venting.

    Be WUCA! community work creates the environment where all people thrive and feel part of their future. It’s a place where all feel WUCA!: Welcome. Understand. Comfort. Appreciate.

    Community members are the experts, so public deliberation begins as citizens - not the good ol' boys or experts - name a problem and identify potential approaches toward it. Through dialogues in a safe, neutral space, people take time to carefully consider advantages and drawbacks of the approaches, leading to new understandings and shared directions or decisions.

    A Be WUCA! community opens the door for all sectors to work together to enhance community life, where old relationships can change and new ones develop. You’ll even find that individuals or organizations who have a history of arguing or never talking can begin to work together!

    Growing your population and businesses using this Be WUCA! process creates a place for all people to be involved, because growing a community is up to each person to talk well of and promote your town, not because it’s someone’s “job.” 

    Communities that want to grow need to create opportunities for all people to get involved and then individuals need to take the opportunity and do it.

    Make growing your Be WUCA! community your responsibility.

    To learn about how these questions can help you grow, check out http://www.bewuca.com/blog/relationship-economic-development-wuca-ize-your-community?rq=WUCA!-ize