Public Power Drives Development
Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon claimed 5 of the top 7 slots for fastest job growth rates in the nation in 2017. Finding a job in the west should be easy, right? Not so fast.
These high job growth numbers are skewed towards population centers. For example, only 13 percent of Oregon’s jobs are found in rural counties. A report from the State of Oregon’s Employment Department blames limited infrastructure, a lack of industry diversity, and a shrinking workforce for low rural employment.
Local government leaders are looking for ways to boost rural economic development. For example, the Washington Department of Commerce Growing Rural Economies Program focuses on 5 services:
- Access to capital
- Technical assistance
- Education and training
How We Can Help
Washington state’s tips for courting entrepreneurs offer several public power takeaways.
- Education and training: Offer energy efficiency advice to entrepreneurs as part of your key accounts outreach.
- Access to capital: Make sure local businesses know about the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant Program. Nonprofit utilities can get 10 year, zero-interest loans to support rural business projects that create and retain rural employment. Learn more at the US Department of Agriculture website.
- Networking and Mentorship: Most communities have a chamber of commerce and service groups. Make sure at least one if not more of your leadership team attend community networking events, and join a service group. To become a mentor, work with the local chamber to pair one or more people from your leadership team with budding entrepreneurs. You might invest no more than an hour a month sharing ideas over coffee, but it demonstrates public power’s commitment to economic development.
We are More Powerful Together
Public power and community leaders can work together to make rural areas a solid option for young families. This shared drive for economic development lies at the heart of the latest More Powerful Together message: Driven.
The communications toolkit, free to Ruralite Services members, includes editorials, community presentations, advertising templates, and more. Three new headlines focus on what drives public power:
- MORE than jobs. Room to grow. By teaming up with local leaders and supporting local education with scholarships, public power utilities encourage lasting job growth.
- MORE than a business. Building community. Demonstrate to your consumers how volunteering and supporting local groups enhance your community.
- MORE than energy. A shared vision. Share a vision of what your community can be by joining forces with parents and students to strengthen neighborhoods.
Ready to talk to consumers about your shared drive to support economic development? Download the latest batch of More Powerful Together resources (password protected). Earlier this week I emailed the password to all of our members. If you didn’t get it, reach out to me and we’ll send it over.