Want to better your community but don’t know where to start? Enter It’s the Little Things: a weekly Strong Towns podcast that gives you the wisdom and encouragement you need to take the small yet powerful actions that can make your city or town stronger.
It’s the Little Things features Strong Towns Community Builder Jacob Moses in conversation with various guests who have taken action in their own places and in their own ways.
In 2017, for the third straight year, Wisconsin ranked last in business startup activity (entrepreneurship) among the fifty states. And worse: it stood as an outlier, with a considerable and growing gap in entrepreneurship compared to the next lowest states.
It’s important to understand, however, that it wasn’t a lack of creativity among Wisconsin residents that led to this low rate in entrepreneurship. Instead, as you’ll learn in this episode, the culture of America’s Dairyland has valued the traditional 9-to-5 in manufacturing and agriculture—the staple industries in the state.
And who can blame them? The major employers have employed hundreds of thousands of Wisconsin workers, supporting the economy and representing the idea of work for decades in communities across the state.
But, as we see repeated in communities around the nation, local economies that rely on one or two major employers struggle when those employers leave town or close shop—disrupting entire communities and slashing tax revenue for the local government. (See question #5 on our Strong Towns Strength Test: If your largest employer left town, would your city survive?)
That’s why Greg Wright, this episode’s guest and resident of Stevens Point, Wisconsin, founded CREATE Portage County: a people-centered model for community and economic development that boosts the creative economy (and entrepreneurship!) throughout Portage County and beyond.
Greg and his team find residents with big ideas—and, through creativity, connection and collaboration, turn those ideas into reality. This grows the local economy from within, a nod to economic gardening, and boosts human capital in the process.
In this episode, Greg shares the story behind CREATE Portage County and how you can foster creative (and financially resilient) communities where you live—including how to inspire creative residents, how to demonstrate the economic impact of creativity, and why you should root all initiatives in a “small and smart” way.