Great Plains communities are starting to "get it"

Submitted by acohill on Wed, 02/09/2005 - 09:00

Run, don't walk, to the nearest store and pick up a copy of USA Today. If you live in a rural community and are involved with economic and community development issues, you need to read the cover story today.

Small towns in the Great Plains are finally starting to give up "elephant hunting" and instead are using an "economic gardening" strategy. This is exactly what I have been saying in our Knowledge Economy Roadshow for the past several years.

Elephant hunting refers to traditional industrial recruitment....trying to bag a big company with lots of jobs. But small rural communities are finally starting to realize that if that is the only strategy they have, it does not work any more.

What is working? Just what I've been recommending: recruit entrepreneurs and families, not businesses. In Kansas, they are giving away free land to families that move to town, and even making cash payments to help with down payments on mortgages. They are helping the head of the household to find a job. It is still economic development, but cast in an entirely different way.

You really need to read the entire article. These communities are getting results, and are beginning to turn things around.

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