Thoughts about business and economic development in rural areas.


November 2008
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Archive for November 18th, 2008

Can you hear me now?

No this isn’t an ad for a phone company. It’s a reminder of perspective for rural areas. When I worked with the communities in Grant County in Southwestern Wisconsin I was very aware of my responsibility to help get our message heard at a statewide level.

But like all tasks, we have to look at them from the customer’s perspective. In our case, Grant County and the four other counties that we called Southwestern Wisconsin made up about 2.4% of the population of the State of Wisconsin. So there were a lot of competing messages being heard by state agencies and even our state legislature. Everyone wants training dollars, everyone wants transportation improvements, etc.

As a reminder of the challenge we faced I would often conduct this little demonstration. If I had 50 people at a meeting I would have one person stand up and yell, “We want money!” at the top of their lungs. That person represented SW Wisconsin. Then I would have the other 49 stand and yell, “You can’t have it!” And that, I would say, is what the people at the state agencies hear. A loud roar of requests, demands and needs that our one small voice could easily be lost in. Hopefully, my audience would have a little more understanding of the challenges we faced as we all tried to be heard on those levels.

OK, so now we understand a little more about the challenge of being heard, what do we do about it. That’s fodder for future posts. And the answer to the question, “Can you hear me now?” can be ‘YES!’