That’s why I support rural entrepreneurs. The best way I can help your community to prosper is to help your entrepreneurs and business owners. They are the ones who will help find solutions to local problems.
That’s why I was excited by the CNN story of Tony Hsieh’s new startup investing $350 million in downtown Las Vegas. Tony is the CEO of Zappos. He wants a thriving downtown to move Zappos into, so people can have more chance encounters and create more wonderful things for the company. And they are investing in getting it.
“Most developers focus on ROI. We’re looking at ROC, return on community.”
I think this is also a place where brands can better connect with local communities. (You’ll be hearing much more on that subject from me, soon. It’s tied to the Small Town Rules book project. )
A new generation of entrepreneurs are redefining small towns and small business. For example, Katie McCaskey is leading the charge with her Micropolitan Manifesto.
It’s not really a new trend, though. Here are two more examples:
Fred Carl, Jr., founder of Viking Range, is from Greenwood, Mississippi. And his prosperity has translated into prosperity for Greenwood. Read more about his community efforts at Viking Range.
George Tucker spent 40 years building small businesses in the village of Oriskany Falls, New York. He felt it could serve as a retail hub. “He became Mr. Rural Renewal, refurbishing the buildings on Main Street. Citizens of the area describe George as a catalyst for change and community improvement.” I found Tucker’s story at Amazon.com, of all places.
And, two more examples from Dave Ivan’s Can Small Towns Be Cool presentation:
In New Carlisle, Indiana, Bill Owens expanded a floral shop into gifts, a furniture store, and transformed the community into a regional destination.
In Mackinaw City, Michigan, the Sheppler and Green families partnered to develop Mackinaw Crossing. It changed the area’s entire retail flavor from t-shirts and fudge shops to a retail shopping destination.
What examples do you have of entrepreneurs helping their communities prosper?
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Raul Colon says
I am a big fan of Tony Hsieh. I was able to see him walking around at SXSW.
It is great that they are actually making an investment in areas which need a boost instead of going to a place where everything is already working properly.
Becky McCray says
Raul, I agree. There is a renewed interest in vibrant, walkable downtown neighborhoods both in big cities and in small towns. I’m doing all I can to support that trend!