A friend called me a few weeks ago in tears. She serves as a community leader in a progressive small town, yet the local negative narrative had her feeling down and out. Unfortunately, it had been building for a while. She was feeling alone and struggling to find any reason to celebrate her community’s successes this year.
What would it look like if the community was thriving?” For rural communities who ask such a powerful question, the responses may vary in scope or complexity, but one thing is certain: asking the question in the first place can be what sets some communities apart from the rest. In January 2022, the City of Columbia asked such a question, and this desire for a thriving community led them to engage with Dakota Resources.
Dakota Resources’ Learning Network Gathering Awards Banquet in Sturgis, SD, held on November 3, 2022, three honorees received distinguished awards in appreciation for their service to their communities. This annual tradition, which takes place at the Entrepreneur Support System Learning Network gathering, allows Dakota Resources to celebrate the innovative work that is happening in rural places across the state.
Someone asked me recently, “Why do some rural communities “thrive,” and some don’t?” I have pondered that question many times and have produced many answers. But after much deliberation, I will reduce it to one word…resilience.
At Dakota Resources, our mission and vision guide our work. Our mission is to connect capital and capacity to empower rural communities, and our vision is for a thriving rural. This past year, we invested in a new infographic to help explain how Dakota Resources as an organization is focused on promoting change and moving from our mission to our vision.
This July, the first cohort of Mitchell, South Dakota-based CO.STARTERS accelerator program graduated from the incubator program. Eleven participants, spanning a variety of industries, participated in the ten-week core program, which was facilitated by Dr. Ryan Van Zee of Mitchell Technical College and Laura Klock, owner of Farm Life Creamery in Ethan, South Dakota.
Living in a small town, we are often inclined to see change in our community as a threat to ourselves and our way of life. When we feel threatened by change, uncertainty rears its ugly head and our negativity often takes over.
Quite simply, community dialogue is an exchange of ideas and experiences through listening, sharing, and questioning. At its best, community dialogue is created in a safe environment where a diverse group of people gather to talk and understand each other. Community dialogue at its worst looks something like the embarrassing story I am going to share about my own community members and town board.
Community Coaching with Dakota Resources looks different for each community, and so it should, as each community has distinct needs and priorities. For the City of Lennox, who engaged Dakota Resources in June of 2021 as a partnership with the Lennox Area Development Corporation (LADC), the priority for this growing community was to develop a comprehensive strategic plan to support Lennox’s future.
Community and economic development work is often complex and can mean many different things. For this reason, Dakota Resources recently conducted a survey to help foster understanding of what community and economic development organizations look like and the type of work they are doing in their community. This is part 1 of a 2 part series.
Most passionate community leaders communicate with the best intentions and are genuinely excited about sharing publicly and celebrating success in their communities. In fact, one of the main questions I get when I coach community leaders is, “How can I encourage people in my community to get more excited and engaged in the work we need to accomplish in our town?”
At Dakota Resources’ Learning Network Gathering Awards Banquet in Mitchell, SD, held on November 3, 2021, three honorees received distinguished awards in appreciation for their service to their communities.
Like a mechanic needs easy access to the right tools, our local community economic development organizations need easy access to the right tools -- like public policy.
Several smaller South Dakota towns are proving that economic development isn’t simply a tally of the number of jobs created. For those hoping to bring new businesses to town or help existing businesses expand, it takes a toolbox that includes available workers, desirable housing, investment dollars, quality of life amenities and leadership.
Coffee is known to many as the lifeblood of the working class, but when the world meaningfully changed in March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of a morning cup of coffee took on a new significance for those connected with Dakota Resources’ Learning Network.
True collaboration can develop when organizations and leaders recognize that none of us can truly succeed without the assets and innovation of others.
In developing an agile economy we need to leave behind the old problem-centric mindsets and develop new collaborative behaviors focused on opportunities.
"Why do some rural communities thrive, and others drop off the map?" My observations have revealed that thriving communities employ three motivational factors: grit, agency, and mastery.
Winter in Wessington Springs is pretty magical. There are sleigh rides (or hayrack rides during this COVID year), a sledding hill that features a historic Rube Goldberg ski lift, ice skating, lights and decorations, and even visits from the Grinch and Santa during their annual Holiday Magic in the Park.
Social worker Jennifer Moos is passionate about recycling. In fact, she spent nearly two years getting a recycling plan in place for Webster, SD, and Day County.
These efforts to pivot and create a thriving community can be accomplished by gathering a small group of engaged residents that are guided by this four-step process
By taking a step toward action, reaching across differences, engaging with fellow influencers and focusing on local assets YOU can make your town a good place to live and breakdown rural stereotypes.