Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Strategy for Revitalization

Today I was privileged to be a part of the inaugural strategic planning process for the Crossroads Coalition - - the regional economic development group I have been a part of for the better part of the last two years. The particular group I participated in was focused on community development, yet from all reports, the strengths and weaknesses identified by the other groups were similar. Two overriding issues were presented: the need to promote the value of education throughout the region, and the need to identify, and even reclaim, the quality of life that small town rural America can offer.

I am hopeful that the sharing and consolidation of ideas that took place today can ferment into a solid course of action that provides a needed boost to a depressed region.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Population Retention

After a hiatus during the fourth quarter of 2008, I am back to continue my thoughts on the role of community banks in the economic revitalization of rural America. Back to my prior post, about generational transfer, let's discuss item one: Population Retention. Remember that at the core, banks are in the business of buying and selling money. A thriving business community is essential to the success of any community bank. Businesses, in turn, must have both customers and a workforce available to them, to be successful. The key to population retention is primarily a quality of life issue. Reversing the trend of exodus from rural America is critical to the survival of small communities. Often, these communities waited too long (or never started) civic pride and quality of life marketing campaigns. Doing so pays big dividends, in rebuilding both the customer base and workforce that small businesses need. Next time, a deeper dive into quality of life campaigns.