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life in rural nebraska

Rural Creative Economies

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Cetak's Meat Market (www.cetakmeats.com)

Cetak's Meat Market (www.cetakmeats.com)

The Daily Yonder has a great read on creative economies in rural America.  They take a closer look at not necessarily at the rural creative class but creative enterprise as a whole in rural communities.  Most importantly, the Yonder looks at how this entrepreneurial activity could and should play a larger role in economic development efforts for rural communities.

While much of the traditional economic development playbook, manufacturing attraction, has been in strong decline in rural communities across the nation, creative enterprise and entrepreneurship have been in sharp inclines.  Manufacturing brings a sizable and significant positive impact in rural communities  and they still play a vital role on our economy.  The likelihood, however of landing a big project in a contracting industry sector is growing much more difficult.  It doesn’t mean you don’t try, it just means the emphasis of your efforts should be shifting to new economic enterprises.  Enter the creative economy.  Across the board, creative enterprise and entrepreneurship has seen sharp increases both in metro and rural communities:

Applying national models to Arkansas, for instance, showed that without artists and design workers in that state, we estimate that employment would have increased by only 15% between 1990 and 200 instead of the 24 percent growth that actually occurred. And as traditional manufacturing declines in rural areas, as well as across the nation, the creative economy represents a chance for rural areas to be places not just where things are made cheaper but a source of products that establish a niche for their region and cause consumers to keep coming back for more.

Two Nebraska outfits do a great job of not only advocating rural creative economies but actually have a role in helping those enterprises compete in a local economy.  One, Nebraska Rural Living shares a great story about an organic farm in Alma (where my parents live) called Well-Rooted Farms.  Well-Rooted farms grew out of a family’s desire to grow closer as well as make a living as entrepreneurs.  Another great advocate, GROW Nebraska acts as the major connector between creative rural entrepreneurs and their consumer base.  A variety of products from creatives can be found from around the state.

The question is behind the *how* of grooming creative entrepreneurship in rural communities.  The Yonder has a great closing behind just how that’s done.  It also plays a *critical* role in our efforts to recruit Central Community College to Ord:

Community colleges, which often have a role to play in economic development through customized training for industry, are a natural place to start. Colleges can expand their offerings of arts education for not only existing students but for continuing education but they can also offer business classes to artists who while can produce beautiful works may not know how to manage the financial end of their business.

One final thought – I find it rather ironic that we label these new creative industries new or innovative.  To me, in some respects its replication of an old idea from Main Street America – small businesses that serve their local consumer demand.  The change is these economies are now global – and lifestyle enthusiasts are seeking rural communities to kick start these ideas.  Interesting indeed.

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Written by Caleb

May 12, 2009 at 4:19 pm

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