All across North America, you’ll find plenty of small towns recognizing the need to grow their populations and looking to boost their numbers.
Growing a small town is not always an easy proposition – in fact, it can be a very daunting task.
When you consider factors such as a lack of lucrative employment options, lack of amenities, proximity to a nearby city among other elements, it’s really no wonder some rural economies stagnate.
It also doesn’t help that this stagnation and economic decline often leads to big city problems never before seen in rural environments, like drug addiction and rising crime rates.
During the second half of the 20th century, people abandoned rural communities by the tens of millions.
When the young leave to study in the big city, more often than not, they don’t come back.
So what tools do rural municipalities have to turn this tide?
Edward T. McMahon, a writer for Town & City Magazine, found that there are Eight elements that contribute to the healthy growth of small communities.
How To Adapt to Rural Living – Click Here to Listen
McMahon notes that not every successful community displays all of the following characteristics, but most have made use of at least three or four:
- Have a vision for the future
- Inventory assets
- Build plans on the enhancement of existing assets
- Use education and incentives, not just regulation
- Pick and choose among development projects
- Cooperate with neighbors for mutual benefit
- Pay attention to community aesthetics
- Have strong leaders and committed citizens
As the Rural Wealth Podcast keeps rolling along, there will be plenty of examples of small communities that have done a great job of marketing what they have to offer and succeed.
Today, however, I want to present you with a YouTube video I prepared halfway through the pandemic.
It’s a look at the small city I live in and the uninspired, self-serving marketing campaign that was launched during the height of the COVID real estate rush:
At the end of the day, all the marketing campaign did was ride a wave that was already in effect – whoever was planning to move to town had done so long before the first press release had been written.
No foresight was put into the campaign as far as what negative impacts it could have on the local economy.
The flight from the city to the countryside resulted in a massive spike in home prices.
The Mayor of Owen Sound actually believes that housing prices had been depressed and are now exactly where they should be – which would be true if the local economy and job market were in better shape.
A year after the marketing campaign a federal census revealed that Owen Sound’s population grew by only 217 people.
What went wrong here:
- Focusing ONLY on work from home for population growth will harm the economy. There has to be a multi-pronged plan for economic expansion.
- Rural economies need to shore up their tax base with more on-the-ground business
- Always have a cause-and-effect study in place before executing a plan.
In the next episode of the Rural Wealth Podcast, I’ll be looking at a stellar attraction program that was put together to draw top talent to Arizona.