Friday, June 20, 2008

Rural leadership continues to scratch heads...

Are they speaking the language of Gen-Y? Quick answer...No. This "digital native" generation is leaving their rural homes for all sorts of reasons. Lack of broadband, lack of engagement, old school mentality, you name it. The first chance these kids get they're history and off to the big city. An age old story about rural life? Sure, but not to this extent.

The long-term effect of this issue is actually a crisis today. Brain drain doesn't just happen across borders with our doctors, it's also affecting the populations of young people in places like Rocky Mountain House, Alberta, Stettler, Three Hills, HighRiver, Hinton...the list goes on and it's of course not just here in Alberta, it's rural Canada and rural America as well.

Talk with any business owner on main street and hear that there's no one to work in these small towns, business owners can't get away during lunch to go to a Chamber luncheon because there's no one to watch the store. Why the local Chamber hasn't figured this out I don't know...more evidence of being asleep at the wheel maybe.

The on average Baby Boomer councils in these towns tend to be good hearted, salt of the earth type people and they're all simultaneously scratching their heads...all victims of the "old school" mentality, lack of general understanding of today's Web 2.0 ecosystem and culture, not to mention the considerable opportunities within it. To top it all off, often they're supported in some cases by bureaucrats who fear change will lead to more work and stifle cool ideas from within. Whether that's actually "support," is up for debate. I hope they realize soon that the issue requires more than just another feel good website. This is a multi-faceted problem that requires a multi-faceted plan.

Solution: Open your minds to the fact that you're competing in a "global economy," power through the fear that generates in your heart and embrace change. Do it today, before you live in a ghost town that ends up as a story in a coffee table book that no body will read. A sad state of affairs for cool communities with awesome people, awesome histories and much to offer the world...

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