Growing up in rural Sussex, a historic country in South East England, I understand small towns have a lot to offer. I've been fortunate enough in my work that I've been able to travel to many countries and cities, to see how places work differently.
Due to globalization, city populations are expanding rapidly and rural communities are shrinking. This is happening on the global scale – young people leaving the towns they grew up in to find work in the cities.
Being an outdoorsman, I’ve become passionate about stimulating business growth in rural areas to keep people close to their families and to keep people in the trades. For those of you who are new to the blog, the first of the series can be read here.
In my opinion, the survival of small towns and economies is essential. Here are a few strategies small towns can implement to survive.
1. Go global
It seems counterintuitive, but communities who can figure out what makes them valuable and how to market it to the world will flourish. Whether it is a natural resource or a certain skill – hone in on what sets apart your small town. If you can find something to offer and effectively market it, you will be able to bring business to you.
2. Think regionally
By joining together with their neighbours, small communities can become more economically attractive for business.
This is especially true for rural communities that may not be large enough to become tourist destinations or attractive to immigrants. Small towns that can partner closely with a nearby city and provide an advantage to those urban communities will also thrive. Partnerships like these can be very successful, as rural communities often have resources their neighbouring urban centers need.
3. Use technology to your advantage
Technology has become so advanced that many companies not only allow working remotely, but encourage it!
Join together with other professionals and create remote offices in your small town. Having a location out of the urban centers is more cost efficient and will seem lucrative to larger companies.
4. Welcome immigration
This is an important one, especially in today’s global climate.
Small towns who open themselves up to immigration can counteract potential population drops in the future. Immigration to small communities can help to boost economic growth in rural areas by providing new jobs and stimulating the real estate market.
Rural communities can help boost immigration by asking themselves: “what can we do to welcome people and make them want to live here?”
While it may seem challenging, through innovation, resourcefulness, and a desire to transform, small communities can have a chance to thrive.
Giles Cadman is Chairman of The Cadman Capital Group, a group of cohesive, complementary companies, operating in the international trade, retail, leisure, and investment markets. Learn more about Giles.