Are you waiting for a savior company or do you want to save your own town?
You have everything you need to save your own town.
You bring Becky and me in to help you bring to light the good things, learn about and find Idea Friendly ways to conquer the not so good things and to help you save your town. When we chose our name SaveYour.Town, we wanted something that was all about you.
On occasion people have mistaken our name for Savior.Town. Both of us are rural folk, and we wouldn’t want some consulting company to come to our town with the promise of being the savior if we did what they told us to do. Often based on some big city template that has been dumbed down to fit a small town. They take their form and change the names of the towns and reuse it, over and over. It then ends up on a shelf, with all those other plans no one liked.
They say things like:
“You need to find a new industrial business and your town will be saved!
Every small town should have a plaza!
That’ll be $60,000 for our services.”
No kidding, you’ve told us outsiders have said those things to you. You found out those consultants were not listening to you, and what you wanted.
Chasing smokestacks is not the answer, and it is not what you said you want either
In the past, traditional economic developers would chase smokestacks, that big new industry that would save their town. Many still do that today, and only that. The Old School methods of answering corporate relocation queries or RFPs, and trying to recruit “good factory jobs,” fails to connect with the most important rural challenges people told us about.
Although rural economic development often centers around creating jobs, this was one of the least-mentioned challenges in the Survey of Rural Challenges in all four rounds. In the first survey in 2015 five times as many people mentioned a lack of available people in the workforce than mentioned a lack of jobs. That was true in the 2023 Survey as well.
Recruiting outside firms is an even bigger mismatch, especially seeking out national chains or franchises. Small town people simply didn’t mention this as a possible solution to any of their challenges. A very few people mentioned a specific type of business they feel their town is missing or they wish their town had, but most talked about finding a local person to start that business. They want their own entrepreneurs in business.
No one called for an outside savior business to swoop in and save their town.
What do you want?
Instead, our survey results showed that rural people are more focused on the economic health of their downtown. Downtown business district issues were frequently mentioned, including the types of businesses, the need to support downtown businesses, the difficulty drawing residents downtown for shopping and activities, and the tough competition with online and big chain retail companies.
What’s a plaza got to do with it?
Some consultants believe that they know the one solution that every town ought to do, like putting a plaza downtown will be the best thing to do for your downtown to succeed. They think it will bring more traffic to the stores, and that more people will shop there. It will be a focal point you can be proud of. And you know what? We like plazas, too, but we won’t promote one if it’s not your priority.
All small towns are not the same.
There are more important ways to help your downtown based on your own people, your own priorities! Working with entrepreneurs to try their product or services out in a pop up is one. Or a pop up inside another business. Or an incubator project in an empty building. Or a shared space with 4 other entrepreneurs. These solutions work, are affordable and help to strengthen your downtown. Plus they’re more focused on people, your people. And if these match your priorities, then they’re worth taking small steps to test.
$60,000 for a visit and a report that goes on a shelf?
It’s not so much about the money, it is about what kind of help is really provided. You want a team that will:
- Listen to your needs and wants, really listen
- Help you get started on taking small steps towards completing the big goal, right away
- Show up with stories they can share of other communities who are doing the things you’d like to see
- Be able to connect you to other resources if they can’t provide it
- Not write a stodgy plan that no one will take action on and it will go on the shelf with all the other plans.
Our team is:
- Affordable! Worth investing your time and money in.
- Rural like you. Have lived and worked in small towns and rural areas and understand your needs and concerns.
- Flexible and open to changes along the way.
- Knowledgeable. We either know, or know where to find out the answers and are able to work with you to know them too.
- Able and willing to give you a follow up presentation that shares what you said you wanted, talks about what steps you’re already taking, stories of towns like yours taking action and suggestions for next small steps.
- Available after the visit and presentation to answer questions and hear your stories.
Are you ready to save your own town? Be your own kind of savior? Let’s talk about it!
Becky McCray and Deb Brown