Stirring the Pot: What makes your town special

Originally posted in Blandin eNews

I’m in Austin TX for the Broadband Communities Conference.  Austin is widely noted for talent attraction.  Minnesotans remember Austin grabbing a big 3M expansion in the Perpich years.  Seemingly, decades ago, locals started the “keep Austin weird” movement. Now with corporate campuses, condo towers and traffic everywhere, I expect that few of those locals still live here.  Or, if they do, feel that they have lost the battle. As Joni Mitchell sang, “tear down paradise and put up a parking lot.”

Most rural communities now put talent attraction high on the economic development priority list.   I advise that your team think about what makes your town special and work to build on and preserve that essence, that unique weirdness.  You can look to the Strong Towns movement for more thoughts on this topic.  Welcome the newcomers; keep what brought them (and you) to your community.