36% of Iowa is rural. 51% of Hamilton County is rural.
I found these numbers on a newsletter I get from SmallBizSurvival.com (click here to subscribe, email me at deb at debworks dot come and I’ll forward you the newsletter article that prompted this blog post.) Becky McCray talked about how state and city conferences are not addressing their rural populations and she also gives all the facts and figures and numbers you could want.
I had a conversation with Ted Rubin, a social marketing strategist out of the New York area, about the difference between small businesses in urban areas and rural areas. And there is a difference. Traditionally rural areas have been slower to adopt ‘new’ things, including social media, new business practices, and reaching out to the greater world. Also, there are just more people for small businesses in an urban area. So marketing in a city versus marketing in a small town is very different.
The needs in a rural area are also different. We are led by agriculture (production and food), production of natural resources, and conservation and recreation in natural areas. Farming, ranching, raising crops, water, oil and gas, timber, wind power, solar power, protected wildlife and green areas … the lists go on and on (and thanks to Becky for this one!) .
Are our needs being addressed? By our elected representatives, by our educational systems, by our towns and cities, by our chambers and civic organizations?
What are we doing to help small businesses in a rural environment? Wearing my chamber hat, we are bringing in continuing education speakers for small business in a rural environment this year. We are working with the Small Business Development Center. We have joined a monthly social media group. We are working with our local Economic Development people to create new businesses and not just large businesses. Wearing my Debworks, speaker hat, I’m speaking at Michigan Small Town and Rural Development Conference in April. I’m also looking to share more stories, ideas and advice at other statewide conferences in 2015.
What can you do? Contact your representatives and insist on rural needs being met. Gather together with other business owners and talk about what your needs are, what you can do to move forward and address those needs. Then let your Chamber know, let your city and county officials know what you need. Follow up! Keep moving forward and keep making rural strong. We’re counting on you!
Thanks for the encouragement!
Thanks for carrying the conversation forward! I’d love to see some statewide organizations do this kind of review of how they address rural needs.
Sarah – you are welcome.
Becky – I think I know what direction we need to go, and yes – I would like that too!