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!