When I spoke to the Oklahoma State University’s rural economic development course again this year, the students had great questions as usual.
One student asked how the small town they were studying could stop people from going to the nearby big city to spend money at stores and restaurants. It’s a question I think many of you can relate to.
I said to start with the one thing that the city people are jealous of the small town for. I couldn’t tell the student exactly what that was, but I knew there had to be something.
Then another student spoke up and said she had grown up in that small town we were discussing, and now she lives in the nearby big city. She was able to tell us exactly what that big city is jealous of. It’s animals!
She grew up showing animals and keeping pets. Now that she lives in the big city, she really misses having that option.
See, the big city doesn’t allow people to keep livestock or even exotic pets within city limits. Families who want to show animals in 4-H or at the fair can’t keep their animals nearby. People who want a potbelly pig as a pet or want to keep a horse for recreation have to stable it far from their home.
But in the small town, you can keep animals as long as you keep things clean. I’m sure this isn’t the only rural quality of life factor that city people envy. If we’d had longer, we could probably have come up with more.
What things about your small town life do big city people envy? Take some time today to brainstorm a few items, then share them with a friend and see what else you can come up with.
Your list will be all about your quality of life. You’ll have a list of reasons why people would want to move into your town. It’s also reasons people might want to stay rather than move out, and reasons former residents might want to move back.
I’m sure you can come up with creative ways to use that list in marketing your community, talking to residents, and in deciding what projects you want to work on next.
Keep shaping the future of your town,
PS – We share a trick to find out what makes your town attractive now so you can use that to attract and retain remote workers in our Zoom Towns video