Wrong? “That can’t be, Joan, say it ain’t so!”
Yes, I am saying that as I rethink by stance here on my Loose Gravel blog, and in my job as an economic development director.
Recently a video was shared on the Learning Network of Dakota Resources. (If your community needs a resource and help; definitely check DR out!) I gleaned a great deal from that video. Greg Tehven of Fargo, ND in a TEDx video states,
“Trouble is coming. Read any newspaper or go to any shopping center. Our economy is changing. Small communities have a huge challenge ahead. The top 30 cities in the world are growing faster than ever before and that means our small communities are struggling and they need to find new ways to reinvent themselves. Conventional and traditional economic development is dead wrong. The idea of recruiting one business from one island to another, from one community to another is not working. Financial incentives, focusing on natural resources where we convince folk to move to our communities or grow, is fundamentally NOT working.”
Greg Tehven makes an outstanding argument and his words cause me to pause and seriously rethink what I’ve been espousing as an ED director and my business. Perhaps after I share here what I’m learning, you might want to add on to your thinking about shopping local.
E-Commerce is a hot topic and basically I have used my little one-woman-EcDev-voice trying to encourage consumers basically to not to use E-commerce, but rather just “shop local.”
Boy, was that naive on my part. Sorry, but that is NOT going to work in this day and age. “Shop Local!” “Shop Small!” has been my mantra for years now, and it still will be but what I am discovering is that it is not that simple. Yes, I am a bit naive.
-Did you know that 50% of American householdsare now using Amazon Prime? And I am sure that number is growing. It was not too long ago here in my blog that I was trying to convince others not to go that route but to shop in their communities instead. I’m beginning to see the error of my ways. Yes, we ABSOLUTELY still want to shop local and small, but what we really NEED to do is build businesses, companies and products that can be sold online. (here is the reason for an online website.) “Money goes where the goods and services are,” says Tehven. That place is on the almighty world wide web; in other words, online.
Our communities need to be about more than survival, if what Tehven says is true “trouble is coming and our conventional ways of doing business is wrong.” Our businesses have to have support of more than just locals. We do need to continue to teach ourselves, our communities, our teens, our children to shop local, but it goes much further than that. It’s about businesses getting websites, and/or online to sell their products. What is the old adage, “If we can’t fight ‘em, join ‘em?”
This too is why I’m an advocate of website companies charging sales tax that goes to our states. Although I’m not real familiar with tax laws and where our states' laws are; I do believe if we have the luxury of buying online, we also need to pay for that luxury.
I do not change my thinking on a whim, and I can be stubborn on a variety of issues, however, after hearing this TEDx video and Mr. Tehven, who I relate to for various reasons but also because he is a neighbor to the north and is use to wide-open spaces; I believe he is right. Enough so to pass it on. I also believe we need to do everything possible to help our local economies in whatever way we can. We can be pro-active; not be like Chicken Little and wait for the sky to fall. This we can begin to fix, to rethink and do more than survive.
A "Bloggette" by Joan (Bloggette = mini Blog) (Written for social media)
When I first took my position in 2011 as Executive Director of Deuel Area Development, I had the job of administering two grants. The office and position was set up for E-Coaching— Entrepreneurial Coaching. I wasn’t even sure what that was. But I had experience in Philip years earlier as a Community Developer so I understood the importance of helping local business.
This job was dictated by grants set up to help Start-Up businesses. I learned quickly that helping people with a business plan was helpful and important yet I’d never done one before. I learned the importance of keeping businesses afloat was imperative. I also learned how important entrepreneurs are to our small towns. But it’s all about “business”— retention, creating, and expanding.
Some people think it’s getting “big industry” to come to town, or jobs for 300 people (I was told my first year in the job that was what I should be working on.) Do we even have 300 people to fill those jobs? Do we have housing for the workforce?
But we live in an era that encourages ENTREPRENEURS; those with a vision. It’s those willing to take risks and venture into the unknown. It’s individuals who believe “the best way to predict the future is to CREATE it.” Entrepreneurship is “the transformation of an idea into an opportunity.”
I’ll give a shout-out to the visionaries who started my position in Deuel County and Clear Lake. Just this year alone, 6 new businesses have begun. Only one of those is in their home so whatever works. In the few years before that, approximately 3-4 others began. All of them are still going. One went bigger and moved to Watertown.
For small communities especially, you need to EMBRACE those START-UPS.
Larger communities you should EMBRACE entrepreneurs, because they have a dream they’re going after and they’re widening the tax base wherever they are and providing for the infrastructure.
I’m proud of my area where I live because we support “small” the best we can. And welcome small business owners and those with ideas. Not all may succeed but at least they tried.
Don’t you have those entrepreneurs in your towns? Let them know in a variety of ways how proud you are of them and let them know you ❤️ entrepreneurs!