Recently, I read a thought-provoking article in the Daily Yonder by Craig Schroeder. In the article, he suggests that there is great value in keeping our young people in our community, but that the only way to do that in a community like ours is to make sure there are career opportunities here.
In community after community, when Schroeder asked rural young people if they plan to live in their hometowns in the future, he was met with lukewarm responses. But, when the question changed, to ask how many youth would like to stay or return if there were quality career opportunities available, well over half shoot their hands into the air.
In reality, some careers of interest to our young people may not be available through traditional employment. The good news is, according to a seven-year survey of rural young people, that almost half of rural youth are not interested in traditional careers.
They want to own their own businesses.
Rural communities like ours that tie their economic development resources to entrepreneurship-education can create help these young people pursue their dreams and, in turn, revitalize, grow and diversify our local economy.
Here are some other key points from the article:
Rural places that tie their economic development resources to entrepreneurship-education can create help these young people pursue their dreams and, in turn, revitalize, grow and diversify their own local economies.
The most successful communities work in partnership with their schools; the town itself becomes a "learning laboratory" where students can practice the knowledge they are gaining in the classroom.
Local leaders who take an interest in young entrepreneurs can change the attitudes young people hold about the communities and their futures.
Building relationships with students who want to get involved in the community, supporting their efforts, and celebrating their local and entrepreneurial projects can help them develop into productive citizens and also make a hometown more attractive as a place to stay or return to.
Just as with entrepreneurial adults, young entrepreneurs need a place to hang out with other youth who think the way they do. Fitting in is a big deal when you're a teenager. Young entrepreneurs know they that think differently, and that sense can cause them to retreat by themselves to experiment with their ideas. ...if towns provide a place for young entrepreneurs to gather and interact, they can feed off each other's energy and create even better ideas and inventions.
To be truly successful, youth entrepreneurship must become a priority within a community's economic development strategy. Youth entrepreneurship requires a sustained effort, especially in this challenging economic climate where much of the attention is focused on immediate job creation.
The article ends with this old adage: The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is today!
The good news is that Rich Lindblad, Executive Director of the Pagosa Springs Community Development Corporation (PSCDCP) has received the “go ahead’ to offer an entrepreneurial training class which we anticipate offering in the spring of 2013, called “Buzz on Biz” to get us started! In fact, the PSCDC has been working with the State Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and has obtained a grant commitment of $5,000 to teach the youth business program.
Come find out more about the PSCDC and how we are trying to develop a more vibrant and diverse local economy. Join the PSCDC for a community conversation on Monday, October 8 at the Quality Resort and Suites (formerly Pagosa Lodge) at 5:00pm.
We will follow the meeting with a community reception to get the PSCDC Board better acquainted with members of the community and hear more of your ideas.