This week, two different speakers talked about the importance of changing community conversations to be more positive.
Chuck Schroeder, Director of the University of Nebraska Rural Futures Institute tells the story about young people in Broken Bow, NE who began the change in the community conversation to be more positive. As a result of hard work and the positive atmosphere main street buildings are full and several new businesses have been created in recent years.
Dell Gines, from the Omaha Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City traveled to Hebron, NE and shared his passion for seeing disadvantaged and economically challenged communities change their community conversation and economic development strategy to become thriving communities. He stated that the old time strategy of chasing smoke stacks has failed. Communities that help “Grow Your Own” small businesses and entrepreneurs build stronger local and grow regional economies.
Gines shared the 5 Cs of strong entrepreneurial ecosystems.
Capital: Capital is important to help small businesses get started and grow. Gines believes in community banking and their support of local businesses and entrepreneurs.
Climate: It would be very beneficial if local policy makers considered regulations and policies as seen from the small business point of view. Residents should support local business development rather than trying to bring in the “big catch.” According to Gines, Nebraska is known for chasing smoke stacks and is listed at the bottom or near bottom in the support of entrepreneurship. Gines quotes economist Jason Henderson who says that chasing smoke stacks is totally opposite of Nebraska rural values where people help each other out.
Capability: Often community residents tell their young people to get a good education and then go and get a good job. Gines says, that at no time in his high school years was he told to get a good education so you can have your own business. Research has shown that up to 60% of rural youth would like to come back home after education, military service etc. We need to change the conversation to encourage young people to learn how to be financially capable, including how to run a business.
Culture: Often people want ‘change’ to make things better. Yet, they themselves do not want to change. Dell challenged community and business leaders to take a critical look at what kind of vision they set for the community. In communities that make positive change, the leaders do what is necessary to move forward. In failing communities, leaders hold on to the ‘power’ to stay the same.
Gallup researcher Shane J. Lopez has a mission to teach people that investing in their future pays off today. The Gallup senior scientist is the author of “Making Hope Happen.” Lopez writes “Hope matters. Hope is a choice. Hope can be learned. Hope can be shared.”
Let’s change the community conversation.