A Blueprint for Community Builders
Mobilize local leaders,
capture wealth transfer, energize entrepreneurs, attract
and keep young families – strategies for rural community
Northeast Business Specialist Karen Linnenbrink attended
the “Home Town Competitiveness” (HTC) workshop Feb.
24-26 in Omaha, Nebraska.
Sponsored by the Heartland Center for Leadership, Center
for Rural Entrepreneurship, and the Nebraska Community
Foundation, over 53 people from 14 states participated,
as well as folks from Hawaii, Australia, and Canada.
Members of school boards, economic developers, and
community leaders represented a few of the interests at
The workshop’s opening statement was an excerpt from the
Center for Rural Affairs study by Jon Bailey and Kim
Preston, Swept Away: Chronic Hardship and Fresh Promise
on the Rural Great Plains:
“We think the future of these communities holds abundant
promise if a new rural development paradigm is swept in.
Policymakers and communities in the region must
recognize the character of the region is based on
entrepreneurial activity and must build rural
development strategies around that character.”
The three-days served as a “Blueprint for Community
Builders.” The blueprint focuses on four major
categories important in rural Nebraska: mobilize local
leaders, capture wealth transfer, energize
entrepreneurs, and retain and attract young families.
HTC is a comprehensive approach to long-term rural
community sustainability. It goes beyond the traditional
tunnel vision of economic development. HTC helps the
community focus on four interrelated strategies that
depend on each other for ultimate success. The first
step is the foundation.
- Build a skilled and increasingly inclusive
leadership group with capacity to improve and sustain
- Retain and attract youth and young families
involved in community leadership.
- Act NOW to capture a portion of wealth that will
transfer between generations. The next 10 years are
critical because wealth transfer will peak for many
rural communities due to the aging population.
- Use transferred wealth in an entrepreneurial way,
not just for playgrounds and pools, but rather to
energize and support entrepreneurs. This is the way to
build local businesses and create jobs.
REAP is an excellent match for HTC. REAP is positioned
to assist communities adopting this approach with our
trainings in the basics of business planning and
e-commerce. Our regional business specialists can
provide technical assistance for youth and other
individuals considering entrepreneurship and business