Rural Matters


From SHEILAH ROGERS
Redwood Valley

May 26, 2009 Ukiah, Mendocino County, North California

May is a busy month for networks, not-for-profits and alliances that are dedicated to the pursuit of entrepreneurship as the economic development strategy in rural communities throughout the United States.  Small and microbusinesses have, after all, created 2/3 of new jobs during the past 20 years and they are historically the first responder during economic downturns.

The National Summit on Entrepreneurship hosted by the Association for Enterprise Opportunity gathered in Washington, DC and announced two new partnerships: one with BALLE, the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies and one with Green for All, the national organization committed to the growth of living wage blue collar jobs in all ‘Green’ sectors.

A compelling interactive session at the National Summit on Entrepreneurship celebrated the unique flavors of particular rural regions and the emergence of deliberate entrepreneurial efforts that build upon those flavors.  Regional Flavor Strategies bring together stakeholders – microenterprise development programs (we have one – it’s called West Company), chambers of commerce, cultural and historic preservations programs, not for profits, educational institutions, Main Street programs, and many others to promote the assets and flavor of their region.

Entrepreneurs are supported to identify and respond to their region’s flavor and encouraged to think and act innovatively as they utilize the flavor of their region to grow and expand their enterprises.  Entrepreneurs from outside the area are attracted to these new vital centers for a place to locate their businesses.

Mendocino County and the North Coast region have identified Six Targets of Opportunity where there is demonstrated job growth, wage increases, competitiveness and career potential.  Three of the six are particularly flavorful in Mendocino County and may provide opportunity to develop a Regional Flavor for the region. They are diversified health care, niche manufacturing and specialty foods and beverages. Those three respond to 21st challenges of health care reform, energy security and food security.

To name a flavor might be hard in Mendocino County.  We would certainly have to think about the arts – fine, crafts and entertaining.  Maybe the flavor embraces several of the sectors. Wouldn’t it be grand to get started and find out!
~
See also Bay Area’s New Crop of Gardeners Digging In

… and How a Greener City Gets Growing
Hat tip for both links to Energy Bulletin

… and Gardens Project Mendocino
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