Local, government and economic development are the three key factors shaping rural small business in the coming year. Within each of these factors are smaller subtrends. Here’s a closer look at what to expect for rural businesses in 2011.
Local foods, shop local, local business. Local, local, local. This collision of trends into an entire movement is reshaping small town economics. It must be big, because big businesses are trying to get in on it. Here are the subtrends that smart small town businesses can use this year.
1. Local Foods: Farmers are the next food stars.
Local foods made up five out of the 20 top food trends in a National Restaurant Association survey of chefs. Clearly, people are thinking more about where their food comes from than any time in recent history. More farmers and producers are using social networking tools to connect directly with customers. More restaurants will be featuring celebrity suppliers and treating farmers like food stars. Opportunities are here for producers, value added processors and even simple things like farm visits.
2. Shop Local: A focus on building better businesses.
A “Shop Local” slogan is not enough anymore. In the next evolution, shop local projects will work to improve local businesses to better meet people’s needs, because more competitive local businesses are a natural draw for customers. One good model: the Main Street Four Point Approach(R). Look into the Economic Restructuring point for more on improving business competitiveness.
3. Local Travel: Meaningful tourism is more engaging.
Travel is expected to be up, reaching record levels in 2011. Visitors to small towns want to do more than watch an event. They want to be part of it, and they want their spending to make them a part of something larger. This represents a progression of engagement in tourism. Visitors pay a premium when they think their purchase is doing good, whether that is a renewal of the environment, of an area’s history, or of a particular culture. Smart small town tourism businesses will build more engagement with visitors and move towards renewal.