Monica Bailey of Rock Port, Missouri, sent in this question that I think you can relate to:
Thank you ladies, as always, for supporting small towns! My question is super generic but it is giving me sleepless nights. I am our counties economic/community development director and I’ve been scrambling to support our small businesses during this crisis. What’s the most helpful thing I can be doing for them right now??
This is a great question. While there’s no one right answer, we are hearing lots of suggestions. And we’re making up a few of our own. I’ll have a more complete answer on this later, but right now here are my thoughts, in order of importance by my guesstimate:
1. Get in touch with each and every business.
- How are they doing?
- What have they changed?
- Where do they know they need help right now?
- Who’s hiring?
2. Get the word out.
- Share what businesses and services are available now, what’s different, what’s still the same, what jobs are open.
- Use every channel available to you.
- Enlist others to spread the word.
3. Listen for community projects and activities that you can amplify.
- Share stories of anyone doing anything positive, anything people can join in on safely.
4. Answer as many of the assistance program surveys and questionnaires as possible.
- Get more businesses to, as well.
- The longer this goes on, the more of these will come out. Many of them help determine how much money gets allocated where.
5. For businesses that are closed or downsized, help them transition.
- What’s next for them?
- What’s next for the space they occupied?
6. Play matchmaker.
- Help businesses that are downsizing to combine with one another to share space or share resources, safely.
7. Fill empty spaces with cheerful things to look at.
- Start filling empty business windows with art of any kind.
8. Start preparing for rebuilding.
- Look for the small spaces and the shared spaces that will help the tiny new startups take root.
Bonus: Don’t do any of these alone.
- There’s a whole community of people out there who want to help. Give them small but meaningful ways to participate, spread the word and cheer each other on.
Monica wrote back to say she’s already doing 1, 2 and 4, so I’m sure you’re on the right track too.
What are you trying in your community?
Hit reply or answer in the comments.
- Community engagement planning: old way vs. Idea Friendly way - October 3, 2021
- Boost your maker economy with a “Made in” day - September 17, 2021
- How a ghost town made something from nothing with a folk festival - September 3, 2021
- Rural business idea: sell foraged fruits and more - August 3, 2021
- Best practices for rural housing - July 19, 2021
- How to be more open to new ideas #IdeaFriendly - July 3, 2021
- Market your small town as a movie filming location, attract movie and game fan tourists - June 28, 2021
- Survey of Rural Challenges 2021 results, analysis of themes from 2015 through today - June 7, 2021
- What makes a small town a micropolitan or nanopolitan? - May 22, 2021
- Improving Rural Housing: turning blighted dilapidated houses into new homes - May 7, 2021