April  2004      Vol. 13, No. 4  REAP HOME PAGE  A publication of the Center for Rural Affairs    
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A Blueprint for Community Builders
Mobilize local leaders, capture wealth transfer, energize entrepreneurs, attract and keep young families – strategies for rural community sustainability.

REAP 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 conference.

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 the community.
  • 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 transfer.

Contact: REAP Northeast Business Specialist Karen Linnenbrink, karenjl@cableone.net .
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