The Power of Coming Together

Small rural communities are here to stay!

This should not shock anyone. If you read this blog on a regular basis, you have heard the message before. Yet a look at many news sources would suggest that thes message has not yet made it into the main stream. Not a problem. We will just continue to show the stories of communities that find ways to make it happen.

Bowden, ND sign

Bowden, ND by gmuske

Bowden, ND, is one such community. It’s a town where the people have said, “we can,” when many outsiders see no hope. Not only are they maintaining the community but they are keeping core businesses and ensuring that jobs are maintained in the community.

It started with maintaining the school building as a community gathering place. A group of concerned citizens took on the task successfully.

Next was the task of finding a way to maintain a grocery store in the community. Economic developers are recognizing how important being able to shop locally for food is in terms of strong community.

Bowden grocery

Bowden grocery by gmuske

At the same time, the local meat processing plant closed. Again, the community came together and made it possible to build a new facility that meets state inspection requirements.

While these small facilities cannot compete with the large companies, they support communities by providing a way for local meat producers to retail their products. This means a greater return as they offer a value-added product and its higher return than what they would otherwise get in the commodity market, their other option. For the community it means jobs and people coming to town. Personally for me it means locally produced beef is available. I benefit, the producer benefits, and the community benefits.

You can read more about their story in AgWeek.

Can this type of success be replicated in other communities? It certainly can and already is being done so in communities across the country.

What does it take? People willing to keep pushing, leaders willing to move things forward, and a community ready to come on board. You don’t need everyone but you do need a core group willing to try.

To begin, learn from those who have been there and done that. You may not want nor should you necessarily duplicate that they have done. Each community must find their own path, understand their own needs, and then chart their own course.

Hope this inspires you to look at your community and say, “What can we do?”


About Glenn Muske

Glenn Muske is the Rural and Agribusiness Enterprise Development Specialist at the North Dakota State University Extension Service – Center for Community Vitality.

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