ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: Rural America economic development challenging, but not impossibleStrategies are certainly different in rural Minnesota than in the metropolitan areas with their various attractions that serve as a catalyst for growth.
By: Cal Brink, Prairie Business Magazine
Economic development in rural America is challenging, but not impossible. Flourishing in rural settings require increased exposure, use of resources and community cooperation.
The Marshall area is located in the southwest corner of Minnesota. Our success in economic development is a result of thinking bigger by spreading our vision of the future beyond Marshall. We formed a partnership to send a message about what the area has to offer. We no longer solely focus on the City of Marshall, but look to advance the entire area within Lyon County. We have formalized partnerships and receive financial backing from the City of Marshall, Lyon County, and the Marshall Area Chamber of Commerce. These partnerships allow us to be more efficient with our resources as we work and think about strategies together. Within this partnership, every community in Lyon County has a seat at the table. We meet each month and share success stories. Furthermore, we work together to find ways to promote the area.
The partnership is called Discover Southwest Minnesota Partnership. A key component of the success is a newly launched website at discoversouthwestmn.com. The website highlights each community by listing properties for sale, business directories, statistics and more. The website gives companies with potential of moving into the area the ability to look at all communities and statistics they need to make their decision all in one convenient spot. All of our partners understand when any of our communities grow, we all grow. People and companies end up spending money within the entire county so why not work together and enhance what we have to offer.
The bottom line is success requires working with neighboring communities and moving beyond competing with each other. Looking out for the good of everyone to find ways to bring companies to rural areas is in everyone’s best interest. Recent research indicates the working age population is starting to migrate to rural America. The reasons for this include more safety, slower paced life style and cheaper cost of living. This is great news for all of us rural economic developers! Now the big question is, which rural area will they move to? I anticipate the rural communities that take a big picture approach to their areas will be the most successful.
Unfortunately in today’s world just staying the same as we have always been will more than likely mean going backwards. Growth is vital to the existence of rural America and our job really becomes finding ways to provide that stimulus for growth. PB
Cal Brink finished a 28 year career with the Schwan Food Company where he held positions from starting as a route truck salesman, to president and virtually every position in between. Throughout that career he had the opportunity to live in many communities in the Midwest as well as travel all across the nation. Those travels always left him wondering how and why some communities seem to be so much more developed and growing. That fascination led him to working in the industry that provides guidance and work that determines how and if communities will grow. For the last three years Brink has worked in southwest Minnesota around the Marshall area and is now doing work for the Chamber, City and County as they prepare for a future that provides growth for all the communities within Lyon County. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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