What will the future look like for small towns?

First, location doesn’t matter.

More and more people are working remotely and/or creating their own entrepreneurial businesses. Is your town ready for new people? Have you got cool housing (think lofts, downtown living) for younger people? Is your downtown active, have the kinds of businesses that people want? Your communities will be more walkable and offer many choices.

Education gained in the real word will assist you in adapting to the future.

Did you learn how to code on your own? That counts. What other hands on education have you received? Are you an artist, do you make handmade products? Your skills will be very valuable, one off products will be in demand. Doctors will see more robots replacing them. It will be the networking economy and we will need people who can connect with robots. Innovation wins.

The ability to lead people, good communication skills and empathy will be helpful.

Seeing how we can work better together, have conversations that move people forward and empathy for others will be important.  The old way of leading by control and fear will no longer work. We will need lots of cross pollination with schools and businesses as well. Great leadership will make this possible.

When is all of this going to happen?

Let’s look at the numbers predicated on research:

  • by 2025 one in three jobs will be robot replaced, displacing 140,000,000 workers.
  • By 2020 millennials will be 50% of the workforce, and by 2025 it will be 75%.

What should we be doing right now?

Figure out how to connect digital to physical and provide the space for it.

Artificial Intelligence, Autonomous machines, augmented reality, data management – all of these things are here already. How can you make more room for them in your small towns? Is your infrastructure ready for these changes? How much of these new practices can be done in a traditional work setting or at home? Gather your crowd and begin building connections. Don’t take forever, begin taking small steps too.

Learn how to use augmented and virtual reality.

Workers are now training in real time with virtual reality. A car mechanic can watch an engine being repaired and it appears in front of him virtually. He can work on his own engine at the same time. Learn how to fly a drone, get a license and think of all the opportunities coming: rural deliveries, transport blood in rural Africa, building virtual and augmented reality for clients, to name a few.

Your businesses will want to work with students, kindergarten through college.

It will be vital to provide workforce, ideas and skills. It’s not just about teaching them, it’s also learning from students. This collaboration will make your town stronger, help get students to return to your town to live and bring entrepreneurial businesses with them.

Think differently about farming.

Vertical farming will show up in lots of places. People want to be more responsible for what they eat. Organic farming will go to a new level. How can you use this in your small town? What kind of robotics will need to be built to plant and harvest the crops with no humans? There will be 4 billion more people on the planet by 2025, and we will need to feed them. How can you be more involved in that venture? And how can you be a part of teaching the rest of the world how to feed themselves?

Idea Friendly Towns will be the most prepared for the future.

The ability to live in the present and prepare for the future will matter. The crowd will create new ideas and be more innovative. The future will be built by people working together, and we will get there by taking small steps.