Over the past four weeks, the "Mastering Main Street" virtual roundtable has served as an invaluable platform for rural small business owners and economic development partners to engage in profound discussions. Each week has brought to light a wealth of insights and knowledge, shedding light on the challenges and opportunities faced by small businesses in communities like yours.
In week one, participants shared their experiences and strategies for attracting and retaining businesses. Discussions honed in on workforce issues, competition from larger cities, and the crucial need for community engagement. Revitalizing downtown areas was also a hot topic, with insights on attracting the younger generation, enhancing local amenities, and fostering city engagement. Throughout these conversations, opportunities emerged, emphasizing the power of leveraging local resources and creating an environment that inspires entrepreneurship.
Throughout week three, conversations evolved around strategies to support entrepreneurial ecosystems in communities. Participants explored ideas like creating inviting environments, offering tax incentives, promoting local shopping, and providing online services. The importance of defining parameters for business parks and investing in young entrepreneurs took center stage, providing a roadmap for fostering thriving entrepreneurial communities.
During the third week, our discussions ventured into community events and strategies to boost local businesses. Creative event ideas like clothing collections, 'Water Fire' spectacles, and 'Harvest Fests' took center stage. The challenge of coordinating these events on Main Street due to traffic and space constraints prompted valuable brainstorming. Financial strategies and resources for rural businesses, such as rent reduction and forgivable loans that have been used in other small communities were discussed with the hopes of these ideas being taken into consideration in others’ small towns.
By the end of the sessions, discussions evolved to emphasize the power of connections. Participants actively sought ways to support one another outside the peer roundtable space. One remarkable example of this was a member who volunteered to serve as a mentor for another participant seeking guidance on converting an old building into a vibrant space in her Iowa-based downtown. This display of community support and mentorship highlighted the true essence of "Mastering Main Street"—an environment where members collaborate, share, and empower each other to reach their fullest potential.
In the new year, we'll continue to explore the challenges and opportunities that shape our communities. From fostering entrepreneurial ecosystems to harnessing the power of digital marketing, our discussions are teeming with actionable insights. Join us for our next "Mastering Main Street" roundtable session, and let's shape the future of rural small businesses together. Sign up here >