Saturday, November 17, 2007
The new issue of Rural Life Magazine (Winter 2007) has a very good article called "The Rise of the Rural Entrepreneur", by Candace Krebs. The subtitle is, "A 'creative economy' spurs opportunity for rural start-ups". This is a subject dear to my heart and the subject of this piece.
The article brings in author Richard Florida, a professor from Carnegie Mellon University, whose book, "The Rise of the Creative Class" did a lot to predict and identify this trend. They quote him emphasizing what seems so important to the general discussion of entrepreneurship and sustainable commerce everywhere now.
"The American dream is no longer just about money. My research and others' show another factor emerging: The new American dream is to maintain a reasonable living standard while doing work that we enjoy doing."
The ability to exercise this dream from rural areas has never been more available.
We all have skills and talents. We're all capable of making a contribution. Now the tools and techniques for interfacing with the general economy from rural communities are becoming better, cheaper, and more reliable every day.
Importantly, those of us working from small or mid-sized communities are all learning the techniques of outsourcing to one another, building strong networks of independent enterprises that, together, are much cooler and - personally - more economically secure than most vertically integrated behemoths lumbering about out there.
Can you do this successfully from a rural area? The article cites a fish broker who easily moved operations from Oregon to Nebraska. Don Macke, founder of the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship in Lincoln, NE says, "A big part of the economy has moved from people being producers to being facilitators of services".
That's largely true, and new services are emerging every day that can be done remotely. While not in a rural community, I was starting capital equipment in Johannesburg, South Africa earlier this year with little more that a modest ability to explain things over the internet.
The work force of capable people is crashing. The ability to participate, contribute, and grow your own enterprise from a beautiful, rural county has never been more feasible.
There are tough and necessary questions that need asking when the subject of rural entrepreneurship is discussed. A reliance on outsiders to solve problems seems wishful and risky. Growing our own entrepreneurs from people already in place, on the ground in rural areas seems much wiser. Developing the skills to empower those would-be entrepreneurs is vital to the larger economies of rural areas now more than ever.
I'm not going to be a mask the fact that rural life in many areas can be economically challenging. I am going to tell anyone looking to develop a new small enterprise that rural life in my state of Wisconsin is strong, vigorous, and welcoming to new ideas and new people.
According to the Rural Life article, people working in the creative occupations include such job titles as engineers, designers, artists, writers, planners, micro-production specialists, web workers, and my favorite, small scale ag entrepreneurs. I would also include everyone in a rural community that has the gumption to reach out and engage the wider world with their entrepreneurial venture.
I'm working with several new friends that specialize in economic development in the rural counties of my wonderful state. They are working hard, and working very creatively, to help you establish your new enterprise in some of the best areas to live and work in all of the United States. I think this trend is beginning to occur in most rural areas of the U.S. Their doors are open, friends, and you are welcome.
The Rural Life article included these stats about the new creative professionals: "Creative-sector workers today outnumber blue-collar workers, and the creative sector of the economy accounts for nearly half of all wage and salary income - $1.7 trillion per year."
Richard Florida concludes, and I agree; "The economy will prosper again when more Americans can do the work they love".
Yep. And it's never been easier to do work you love from a place you'd love to live.
Here are just a few of the beautiful rural places in my state, which are looking to have you live and work and live out your dreams. I'd highly recommend getting in touch with these folks if you would like to learn more. If you are already living in one of these places or would like to, get in touch with the folks below. You'll never launch your own enterprise without taking the first step. Just start!
Juneau County, WI. Terry Whipple has built a program to support entrepreneurship and innovation that is unmatched. All this from a beautiful rural location you'd love to live in.
Vernon County, WI. I think it's among the most beautiful rural areas in the world and don't want to see it overrun. Sue Noble and friends will help their beautiful county develop with your needs and their beautiful county in mind so please call her.
Green County, WI. This county is among Wisconsin's best kept secrets. It's a beautiful rural setting with excellent access to Chicago, Milwaukee, Rockford and Madison. Anna Schramke and her team can get you all the information you could want about starting or relocating your new enterprise in this really lovely setting. Some of my very best new startup clients are based in Green County and the support there is excellent.
Sauk County, WI. Sauk County contains some of the most beautiful rural settings in Wisconsin, yet is bustling with commercial vitality. Not only that, this wonderful Wisconsin county hosts a community baseball park known as a national gem. Call Karna Hanna to learn more.