At the 2010 Oklahoma Entrepreneurs Conference, a panel of communities shared how they had become more entrepreneurial. Artists are entrepreneurs, too, and Mangum, Oklahoma, is home to several arts businesses.
“If you count every man, woman, child and chicken, we have 2500,” Maxine Thomason said. She was the Mayor of Mangum, a former program manager of Mangum Main Street, and a 30 year teacher.
“Survival for a small town is not a given,” Thomason said. “You have to work at it.”
Mangum chose the Main Street program as their stepping off point to work at survival.
“We don’t have the workforce or space for a manufacturer, so we have to offer a niche market,” Thomason said.
They ended up in the artist business. Mangum’s Artists Alley is now famous in Oklahoma and a tourism draw. It started with an individual artist setting up studios. Then a few artists joined in, and it has now expanded to other entrepreneurial businesses moving into downtown.
They do lots of advertising to bring in visitors. One innovative tactic Thomason mentioned was an established business allowed artists to piggy back on their newspaper inserts.
They made use of the state Main Street program. Oklahoma Main Street has an architect service, at no charge. Mangum used the Main Street Architect to guide the remodeling of four storefronts.
Two financing programs helped promote more entrepreneurial activity. The City of Mangum established a Revolving Loan Fund for local businesses. They funded it through a grant by the United State Department of Agriculture. The local Main Street committee offered $500 matching grants to businesses for facade improvements. It’s small, but it’s enough to start changes, Thomason said.
The local Main Street also became a clearing house for available resources for small businesses.
“There’s lots of assistance out there, but sometimes it’s finding it,” Thomason said.
New to SmallBizSurvival.com? Take the Guided Tour. Like what you see? Get our updates.
- How small town businesses can market to remote workers and turn them into new customers - May 15, 2023
- Survey of Rural Challenges 2023 results - May 8, 2023
- Rural and small town ideas from the OU Placemaking Conference IQC 2023 - April 5, 2023
- Rural tourism trends say small towns are still cool - March 27, 2023
- Move Your Money and Bank Local - March 22, 2023
- Using a building as a warehouse or storage in a small town? Put up a sign - March 13, 2023
- How to get customers in the door of small town and rural retail stores - February 19, 2023
- Check your small business website for outdated pandemic changes, missing info - January 31, 2023
- Rural Tourism Trend: electric vehicle chargers can drive visitors - January 15, 2023
- 2023 trends for rural and small town businesses - December 26, 2022
Ivan Widjaya says
In this highly competitive world, it really all boils down to creativity. If you’re not going to be creative, you’ll end up getting left behind. Here is a demonstration on how far creativity can take you. A business can begin prospering just from this trait.
Becky McCray says
Ivan, frequently, our creativity is our best weapon in a small town.