There are 6 places in rural America local economy where money talks and are the most sustainable financial businesses, yet it’s declining and needs support.
More Wall Street investment bankers need to subscribe to small, rural towns.
In addition to collateralized debt obligations, these corporate bankers should invest more in rural America’s main street businesses.
Instead of focusing on consolidation and globalization, they should invest in what remains the domestic cornerstones of America, like “clean” food production.
Another reason they should invest in rural American local economy is technological advances and trends to replace outdated professions, such as photo-lab, watch and shoe repair.
The US government anticipates a future with ever-bigger centralized businesses, but the “too big to fail” model is what thrust the US into the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.
Since the US economy have deep roots in “small business” and development, both big banks and wealthy individuals should consider ways to support small, local, rural businesses to keep jobs from going overseas.
Rural communities with a diverse network of businesses and services are stronger and less prone to the catastrophic failures of the sort that brought down our overly globalized financial system.
Individuals can also show how money talks by voting with their dollars to help build a more robust economy and flourishing communities.
The following are six “hungry markets” where corporate bankers can put their investment dollars to make a difference:
The local mom and pop nursery is a rising success story.
Independent retail nursery sales are up nationwide, while nursery sales at big garden centers are in decline.
Target closed its garden centers in 2010 because, according to company spokesperson, they were no longer profitable and “no longer providing value to our customers.”
Why are independent nurseries able to compete with the big guys?
As it turns out, the corporate drive toward homogenization conflicts with Mother Nature’s vast climate and soil diversity.
You just can’t send out the same set of plants to all those big-box locations when micro climates exist throughout a city, let alone a region or country.
A local nursery is more likely to have the varieties that perform well in the area given the typical weather and soil conditions, as opposed to getting:
As with many small businesses, independent nurseries tend to offer a more knowledgeable employee base.
It’s usually easier to locate an employee in an independent store.
If they don’t know the answer to a question, they usually know who works there who will know the answer.
Your local, independent bookstore faces, perhaps, the most uncertain future of all of the businesses profiled here.
Challenged for years by big-discount bookstores, small bookstores, along with the big guys, now face extinction at the hands of online retailers and a revolution in digital books.
Like many small businesses, the independent bookstore’s greatest strength is a knowledgeable staff.
There are certain wonderful books that would have swiftly faded out of print were it not for the passionate shelf placement, hand-selling and staff-pick selection at a local store.
Traditional bookstores foster the kinds of face-to-face interactions lacking in the virtual world.
Book shops, especially personally run ones, offer a genuine community experience—an incidental gathering place, where the very act of browsing puts you in the way of some potential good experience.
The nature of walking into a store to see what you find means you are open to the unexpected, that you could look around and leave with nothing or come out with a brand new treasure someone turned you on to.
Running an independent hardware store hasn’t been easy since big-box retailers reshaped the market in the late 1970s.
The housing crisis hasn’t made it any easier.
Big-box warehouse stores have a built-in advantage—they can buy directly from manufacturers and can negotiate a better price.
But along with the greater buying power of big-box hardware stores comes the inefficiencies of scale.
The advantage of independent hardware stores and specialty plumbing and electrical shops that cater to pros is variety.
Regarding big-box stores.
They sell what sells.
They don’t sell end-to-end solutions.
It is not a comprehensive view of what people actually need.
If a project takes 10 components, they may only sell eight of them, as two of the SKU’s didn’t sell.
The old corner butcher shop is yet another victim of consolidation.
Butcher shops carry local, pastured, organic meats outside of a farmers’ market.
It is a throwback to a time when a corner butcher actually cut apart whole animals.
The overwhelming majority of meat in the United States comes pre-packaged from enormous slaughterhouses that can process many thousands of animals a day.
With this centralization and scale comes a considerable amount of “sloppiness”.
They have to cook their meat in ammonia or a disinfecting solution and then bleach it out.
So they end up having to add artificial color and flavor back into the meat and fortify it with all kinds of nitrates and salt.
It is rural America’s goal to get customers to try natural, lesser-known cuts, instead of the rib-eyes, strips and tenderloins they’re accustomed to.
It’s really important to get full usage—the whole animal—so that you’re generating as little waste as possible and you’re educating your rural community to really think differently about how they’re eating.
In the course of U.S. history, the number of farms and farmers has decreased dramatically as the general population has increased.
According to EPA, less than 1 percent of U.S. residents call themselves farmers.
By patronizing small farms through farmers’ markets, farm stands and animal-share programs, you help reverse the trend toward big agriculture.
According to Shannon Hayes who authored Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture says, “No matter where we live on this planet, no matter how many dollars we can touch in a day, the only true wealth is nutrient-rich soil, sunlight, clean water and fresh air.
Everything comes from these elements.
When you visit a local, sustainable farmer, you are not just witnessing this wealth.
You are taking the dividends from it directly into your body.
Also, you are re-investing in its ongoing renewal for future generations.
As far as I’m concerned, there is no other way to feed yourself and your family.
Even in a big city, farmers’ markets are opportunities to get to know the people who produce your food.
There is no reason that your transaction with these vendors needs to be impersonal.
The more personal it is, the more you and your farmer will enjoy your outing, and the more the farmer will enjoy his or her day at the market.
And the more personal it us, the more confidence you will feel about your food supply.
It’s not just small businesses that are in danger in these uncertain economic times.
Just when more people are becoming interested in growing their own food, our government is cutting back on cooperative extension services.
Your county extension service provides a variety of programs that might include:
In short, they have free advice backed up by solid, peer-reviewed research.
The U.S. is losing vacant faculty positions, meaning that recently retired extension faculty will into be replaced.
Operating budgets are being slashed.
Support staff are being let go or are not being hired to fill vacant positions
County extension offices are being hit doubly hard, as they are funded by both the university and by their county.
With these cuts in personnel and operating budgets, fewer services will be available.
Extension services are administered through state land-grant universities with funding coming from federal, state and county sources.
What can individuals do?
Lobby your state legislature for increased support for public universities, specifically for cooperative extension services.
Without the vital educational services provided by extensions, we risk losing a new generation of victory gardeners precisely at a time when greater food security is needed the most.
About: I’m the author in residence of RuralMoney.com. Unfortunately, I am also a person with disabilities. I have severe Rheumatoid Arthritis. I love to share what I know and practice to help others survive and thrive in rural areas.
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