What factors are key for economic growth and development? Getting beyond the "it's the economy, stupid," mindset.
That phrase has kept small town elected officials up at night since the great recession (and then some). But the truth is, most rural communities struggle to create an economic development strategy to serve as a blueprint to achieving their goals. Municipalities that do have a plan, too often have challenges making it work, and it is ‘work’ that’s required.
So, how can you kickstart your town’s economic growth and development?
Start with the Truth: Economic Growth & Development 101
Define the inherent truth about your community:
What makes it great?
What do people love about living and working in it?
If you had 30 seconds to convince someone to move to your town, what would you say?
Honest answers to these questions will define a town’s Brand. People are attracted to brands. They form connections with other people who buy in to ‘their’ brand and in a digital age, brands have more reach than ever before.
Adhere your Brand to your Goals
Think about the types of people that make your community great. Then think about what would make it even greater. The improvements will become your economic development goals, so make them achievable and incremental so when each is achieved, it will support the achievement of the next.
Commit to the Never-Ending Story
It takes the right people, coming together, to turn goals into realities.
People love stories. Stories that consistently celebrate the truth (brand) of your community will attract more of the right people – like the ones that make your town a great place to live and work.
To be clear, each community has its unique type of ‘right people’ and they can be extremely diverse. Your ‘right people’ are the ones who feel passionate about your community, and want to contribute to making it the best it can be for all of its members.
Get your Brand Out There!
My great aunt was fond of saying “Don’t put the lantern under a bucket.” In clear terms, don’t just tell your friends and colleagues, tell the stories to the type of people you need to achieve your goals.
It's never been more cost-effective to promote your town’s brand through platforms ranging from low-cost/no-cost social media channels to highly targeted marketing campaigns. The secret is consistency and continuity. Just like the next episode of TV series, or the next sequel in a film franchise, people want to feel confident that there’s more to come – and when they connect with your story, they share it with their friends (who probably include some more ‘right’ people).