What are you doing with the newcomers?

Moving from the big city to the small town can be a rough transition. And since we just talked about how many people are moving IN to small towns, this is an important topic.

One story on this theme, “Giving Up My Small-Town Fantasy” by Reyhan Harmanci made The New York Times recently.

Reyhan moved from San Francisco to Hudson, in upstate New York, population under 7,000. But it didn’t work for her. She felt alone. She missed the networks of friends and former co-workers she had enjoyed in the big urban area. It became depressingly lonely for her.

“Maybe things would have been different if we had done a better job of integrating into the community. But while meeting people happened easily enough, making friends — laying down roots — proved difficult.”

So she’s moving back to the big city. And that’s probably the right move for her.

But it reminds me that we don’t do much to help really pull people into the community.

Randolph, Nebraska, population 932, recently did a smart thing to work on this.
Gary A. VanMeter, Community Development Director, shared this story:

“Randolph rolled out the carpet for newcomers to town last Sunday with a big welcome and lunch at the City Auditorium.  Weeks before this, volunteers went knocking door-to-door making personal calls to welcome newcomers.  Mark Korth and Doug Tunink stopped by our home to extend an invitation.  All together, the ‘Welcome Teams’ made 37 visits to new residents.  The fruits of their effort were realized when a crowd of nearly 200 new and established residents gathered together at the Community Auditorium to share lunch.”

That’s pretty impressive in a town of under 1000. I’d love to hear what your town does, or other great projects you’ve heard about.

Do you have a Relocation Guide or a Newcomers’ Guide? 

Paula Jenson is also working on the question of new residents, and she has a related request:

“I work with a group of regional Economic Developers in Northeast South Dakota all from small towns of 5,000 or less.  I am gathering samples of ‘Relocation Guides’ to encourage communities to create a resource to encourage people to come home.  It isn’t easy finding rural resources sometimes.

“Do you have any sample Relocation Guides or a checklist of what should be included in a guide?  These would be a great help to jump start these communities in developing a great resource.”

If you have a sample relocation guide for a small town, hit reply and send it to me. I’ll pass it along to Paula, and I’ll post it publicly for others to use, too, unless of course you ask me not to. 

Keep making your small town better,

PS – A few links for this week: 

  • NaCo is looking for rural US counties to host a County Prosperity Summit 
  • 5 myths about rural youth in US and Australia
  • Congratulations also to the outstanding rural resource Bank Of Ideas which got a major website makeover

If you like rural links, I share lots on Twitter. You can follow along at @SBSurvival.