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How to Measure if Your Community is Growing or Shrinking
Our family was in northeastern Alberta this past weekend to take in the Lea Park Rodeo; one of the truly authentic outdoor events in the Canadian Professional circuit. The performances actually takes place in a natural amphitheater of the Regional Park, but there are also additional activities hosted ten miles south within the town of Marwayne.
They say it takes an entire village to raise a child; but it definitely takes the involvement of a whole community to host a weekend of this scope, with almost all of the manpower supplied by volunteers, both rural and urban. Their hard work is rewarded by world class rodeo contestants coming from all over North America to compete, and several thousand loyal fans faithfully attending each and every year to cheer them on.
A few years ago I was invited by the University of Saskatchewan on a ten day, 26 community tour of five states in the American Midwest. We were there to learn what had worked well, and not so well, in business and economic development in regions like the one we lived in. I was particularly struck by the advice given to us by a small group of community activists in a small county located in central Nebraska.
They did not go "chasing smokestacks" or big projects; rather took it upon themselves to nurture the advancement of new and existing business. This group celebrated each and every new job, part-time or full-time, that was created in their area. They actively assisted local farmers, business, and tradespeople to develop strategies that would strengthen their place in the local market. If more people bought gas at the local convenience store, requiring an extra worker, great! If someone started up a mail order business, and needed helpers in the peak season, terrific! If an electrician was so busy he needed an apprentice, success!
Several years before, a city-based bank had closed their branch in the community in an effort to consolidate services in a larger centre down the road. The development group leased the building at a nominal fee, and opened up a business incubator for local craftspeople. Within the structure was upwards of a dozen stalls presenting the output of this talent, plus a hands' on demonstration room; all overseen by a full time staff member.
Visitors started to come off the Interstate and from larger centres to view what was available; with some even staying overnight to take in a arts clinic or one on one instruction. Of course, this spawned the need for a couple of Bed and Breakfast host sites. Nothing major but this one initiative supplemented the income of a number of families. At the time of our visit, two of the artisans had gained enough confidence to open their own shops up the street. There was a distinct level of pride and accomplishment at what had been achieved, both economically and culturally.
Marwayne has that same sense of potential about it. In addition to the historic hotel, restaurant, hardware, clothing, and two grocery stores, there is a new tack and feed shop, plus a farmer's market. As the mayor of Cook, Nebraska said to us: "you may not be able to chose where you work, but most of us can choose where we live!" Congratulations to the citizens of Marwayne and area on showing the rest of us how a small community can pull together and have the world come to their door.
Vern McClelland is an associate broker with RE/MAX of Lloydminster and a partner with The Midwest Group. If you have questions or comments on this article or other real estate matters, he can be reached at 780.808.2700 or through the website www.wesellmidwest.ca
Disclaimer: ActiveRain Corp. does not necessarily endorse the real estate agents, loan officers and brokers listed on this site. These real estate profiles, blogs and blog entries are provided here as a courtesy to our visitors to help them make an informed decision when buying or selling a house. ActiveRain Corp. takes no responsibility for the content in these profiles, that are written by the members of this community.