Thoughts about business and economic development in rural areas.


August 2007
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Archive for August, 2007

Rural Planning

Attended a “Smart Growth” planning meeting for the Town of Brigham (Barneveld) the other night. There were 55 people in attendance representing a real cross section of interests. My message (Skating to Where the Puck Will Be) focused on the perspectives we all bring with us and how planning should be a guideline and not a straight jacket.

The good cross section of perspectives ranging from lifelong residents to people who moved in within the past 5 years will prove invaluable to this process but only if the participants really get to know one another.

What use is perspective and knowledge if we don’t know of them and don’t actively involve them in the mix. Dangerous things happen when we the base for our plans is rooted in assumptions rather than reality.

We can’t compete

Too often I find that leaders in rural areas feel they can’t be competitive with other more urban areas. They feel that the urban areas have too many advantages, more money and more talent. But that’s not always the case. In fact. when a rural area takes the time to identify their own advantages they often find that they have weapons that are unique to them or are as good or better than what other areas can offer.

Take available land or space for instance. Compare the cost of raw or even developed land in rural areas. Advantage rural. Compare the cost of renting business space. Advantage rural. Compare….well, you get the idea.

There are many time when we can say, “Advantage Rural”, but we have to be thinking along those lines.

Rural Perspectives

Most economic development and business info is great for large companies and urban areas. But what about rural America? No, not the area just outside of Detroit or a fast growing suburb of Austin. I’m talking about real rural areas where farm animals are still likely to outnumber people. These musings will focus on issues that relate to rural areas and how growth…or the lack of it…will affect the future of people who live there. I invite you to jump in with your comments. After all, that’s what this is supposed to be all about.