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Picture this: you enter a rural town, say, somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. Falls, they tell you; Klamath Falls. It's barely on any map. You picture a post office that doubles as a general store with a hitching post and watering trough out front. A place where nothing ever happens. A place that's going exactly nowhere. Tumbleweeds drift across the dirt lane; the town's one streetlight blinks a desultory signal, somewhere between a shade of yellow and a shade of despair.
You get the idea. Becky McCray understands most people view rural communities this way, through the lens of a stereotype that is not entirely of their own making.
"In the past, lines on the map have decided who we [rural communities] were, and who we could reach." Over the past ten years, Becky has seen outsiders and community members alike paint the rural business community with the same brush of going nowhere, doing nothing, not on the cutting edge. But Becky is out to change how rural business is viewed in the modern era.
"Outsiders, and some insiders, still see things from 'back then' but some are starting to see small towns with a more open perspective and less stereotyping. Old limits just don't apply any longer, as older generations of business owners begin to turn over the reins to a younger generation. Young people are starting new businesses or taking on existing businesses and they are taking advantage of the tools of today."
Becky lives what she speaks; a small business owner and cattle rancher, Becky began a site in 2006 called "Small Biz Survival", developed with the goal of reaching out and helping others in the rural business community, but on a global scale.
"Small towns can prosper. The idea that nothing ever happens in small towns is a MYTH. And the driving force is technology."
Like the guy in Canada, Gregg McLachlan, who started a business, workcabin.com, from his cabin in the middle of the woods...using dial up connections to make environmental job connections for folks interested in joining the green jobs movement. "You have no excuse to not get started; numbers do not limit you, only you can limit yourself," Becky says. Like the guy in Clay Center, Kansas, a town often overlooked because of its proximity to larger cities (sound familiar?). That guy started up a business out of his basement, using technology to reach a global audience and to create a virtual team to help him run that business. Check it out: Grant Griffiths, Clay Center, Kansas, Headway Themes. Now that's destroying rural business stereotypes!
Her presentation, 10 Trends in Rural Favor, will be held on September 14th at 10:00 am. Be there or be square!