Times are Changing – 5G/Pandemic
by Eddie Barnett
Intended audience is Rural Community Economic Development Organizations
If ever there was a time for area Economic Development Organizations (EDO) to “… think outside the box” (for whatever that means!), it would be now. It is no secret that small counties and rural communities have been losing businesses, and thus a reduced population for decades. The Country (USA) isn’t losing populations!.. it is the small communities losing population – young people get out of school, then they go off to college (never likely to return), or they go to a large metro that offers employment opportunities. The Big get Bigger, The Little get Littler! So far, none of this should be much of a surprise to any Community EDO Management.
What exactly is the objective of any Rural Community EDO? Having never actually been directly involved in such an organization, I can only guess the objective(s). My first guess would be that the primary objective is to retain community population, and indeed, increase said population. With that, they could expect to offer additional services, as well as to increase the tax base that is the life blood of any governmental community - of any size! Likewise, it should also not come as any surprise to these responsible parties to recognize that there are a couple situations that are now coming into focus that should give pause to EDOs relating to their marketing effort. These two seemingly unrelated situations should be the reason for a marketing plan that should be studied and understood by local/area EDOs.
First is 5G – who among you has not yet heard about 5G? If we are to believe the hype (and certainly no reason not to), then rural communities have to become proactive on utilizing this “coming” technology. I say “coming” because it is not yet readily available, but if history and technology tells us anything, it is that IT IS GOING TO BE HERE!.. sooner than later, and may now be sooner with increased need for such.
Second is current pandemic (2020) – I believe that there is a merging/blending of science and politics in this pandemic, but regardless, the related rules are what we have to contend with. As a result, many companies are requiring/allowing their employees “work from home”. The technology to do this has been with us for some time, but has never really been fully utilized – till now. With the “need” in place, now the “finding a need and fill it” phrase takes on new meaning. In just a short period of time, the integration on hardware, software, and communications has been developed to be able to accommodate the ability for “remote” involvement and participation. And not just for individuals, but also for Committees and large groups of people. And not just for internal company usage, but for sales and marketing activities. NOTE: clcik here for more on Tele-Conferencing.
Now integrating First (5G) and Second (remote employment) and a whole lot of business activities can/will change. And this is where Small Communities can come into focus. If you can fulfill your job responsibilities from Iowa, why do you need to live in New Your City?!.. or San Francisco?!.. or (you name the large metro)?! I think that it may be time for the Midwest to recruit all those folks that we sent to California in the 1950s and 1960s… bring’em home! But before we begin the “recruiting” phase, we should give thought to facilities and services planning.
Many small communities have empty retail buildings and empty school buildings. Why not give thought to these structures being used as a “Business Center” or "Business Condo" – with facilities and services to accommodate their tenants. Actually these same structures could accommodate a manufacturing/production requirement for an entrepreneur or small business with an idea or a product but without the resources to accommodate such.
Once the plan for facilities is in place, then the next step would be to take advantage of social media to “get the word out”. Publish a website that could provide the detail information that is necessary in solicitation of individuals and companies. Social media could incorporate the website address where the viewer could get further details and contact information.
That same website could publish Product and Business Ideas (as is the primary objective of this website) from companies and individuals that seek financial assistance, business partners, etc. Or perhaps retired senior people that have ideas, but no real interest in involvement, could offer ideas and suggestions in a “public domain” format. An website example may be www.RedOakSeniors.com