Local Resources and Cooperative Extension Help Build Community

2016-07-05_1004Thanks this week to Pam Schallhorn, both serving as University of Illinois Extension Community Economic Developer Educator, for sharing their blog post.

It is not an uncommon remark someone makes wishing that his or her local community could grow.

Quite often a follow-up comment discusses “if only” we could bring in some new industries to make that happen.

The reality is that the resources, tools and spark plugs for community growth often already exist in the community. I have watched this happen in three counties in south central ND as they have come together around their Germans from Russia cultural heritage.

Pam’s  blog post shows how a community has built from within. Rockford, IL called it “tapping your own creative talent.” Locally grown businesses started based on the needs they saw. It’s a great example showing just what can be done. Cooperative Extension played a role in helping to make this happen.

In the post, Pam writes that the town realized that businesses were not just going to move in to save it. Instead, the people in the community needed to invest their own talent, time, energy, and, yes, even money to make things happen.

So are you ready to make things happen in your community?


Growing Pains


Photo (CC) by Nana B. Agyel, on Flickr

One of the objectives at Power of Business is to learn from other business owners. Often others have already experienced the path we, as a business owner, are thinking about or already on.

This is a great story examining how growth turned out to be less than a great thing for Copper Pot Carmels.

According to the article, the issues started as the owners started to streamline the process in order to keep up with demand. What surprised them was the customer reaction.  And what was the streamlining? An automated wrapping machine which demanded a new type of wrapper.

Read how they had to step back and refocus and what their future plans are. Also pay attention to their passion for the business in terms of the hours they were working.  Lots of lessons to learn such as talking to your customer before making a big change.  You should also appreciate their attitude that “It’s not the end or an era; it’s the end of a chapter.”

Hopefully a reversed decision does not end your business but instead help you instead decide how to move forward. 

As you read the article, how might you have handled the situation? Lessons learned.

Elwood Market Moves Forward with Nebraska Encouragement

Guest Bloggers: Jim Crandall, Cooperative Business Development Specialist – University of Nebraska Extension

Elwood marketTaking a look back at a business our guest bloggers highlighted in May, 2013. Find the original story here.

The Elwood Hometown Cooperative Market was born to meet a community need.  When the local grocery story closed, the citizens were faced with no place to buy milk or a loaf a bread. With the assistance of the UNL Nebraska Cooperative Development Center, a part of Nebraska Extension, a steering committee made plans and then opened a new cooperative grocery store in town.

The store continues to do well.  The Nebraska Cooperative Development Center Extension staff continue to meet with them on a regular basis as they develop and change to meet community needs. With the closing of a local café, they have added a daily lunch special to their offerings.

Inside Elwood MarketThe expertise of the staff is growing. New things are happening. Membership communication has been expanded and includes the use of social media and emails. Check out their Facebook page.

Jim Crandall summed up his comments saying the store is doing well as it grows slowly and deliberately into the future.

And while they work hard, they also have some fun. Check out their video.


Making a Sale or Building a Business

Building tower of blocksIn my career, I have worked with lots of business start-ups. Quite often I hear stories about how good they feel when a customer buys their product or service. And they should be happy. They are verifying that the market does indeed value what they have for sale.

However, our guest blogger this week, Peggy Schlechter, South Dakota State University Extension Community Development Field Specialist, notes that building your business is your bigger goal. She writes, “Building a business is what you do to encourage that customer to return to make future purchases.” Click here for her article that outlines ways to encourage the customer to return.

Power of Business encourages you to read her article. Then decide how you are going to keep the customer coming back.