Last year’s top ten trends was embraced by many of you, so we are doing a new top ten trends for this new year. I’m looking forward to meeting many of you in my talks and tours around this great country of ours. I start off the year this Friday in Great Falls, MT. I’ll be reporting on these and many other trends I see during this next year.
1. Sense of Place--What unique attributes set you apart from other towns? It started in the revitalization of downtowns and has spread to arts and recreational assets. Trails, agri-tourism, recreational land, bird watching and other non-traditional assets are becoming increasingly important in developing a special sense of place for a community.
2. Green—Alternative energy such as wind, solar, ethanol and biodiesel are changing communities and creating some very unique new opportunities. Green products and buildings are gaining in usage. Branding examples like Bio Town, IN are leading edge.
3. Art Meccas—Emerging art towns that are actively recruiting in artists who want to own their own studio/house, which an amazingly small number of artists are able to do in larger cities. Paducah, KY is the best example but much smaller towns are emerging (e.g. Cordell, OK and Palestine, IL).
4. Third Coast—Led by “halfbackers” who moved to a coastal state but because of rising costs, congestion and other headaches are moving half-way back home. Draw a line from ID down to AZ and across to NC. These states/regions along this line have some unique opportunities to take advantage of this trend.
5. Non-PMS Entrepreneurs—The traditional “Pale, Male & Stale” entrepreneur is being supplanted by females, minorities, immigrants and others. This trend will explode with the millennial generation, the most entrepreneurial generation in the history of the USA.
6. Taste of Place—People are beginning to value the place through its products, mostly food related. It started with wine but is spreading to cheese, honey, maple syrup, olive oil and other products.
7. Labor Shortage—Quickly developing into a major impediment in many rural towns. Some are starting to tap into their “brain banks” of former residents to solve.
8. Angel Investor Networks—Growing from only 20 to over 250 in the last 10 years, these generally regional initiatives are growing in importance. States like WI and IA have incentivated with investment tax credits, which more states will follow.
9. Local—The spinach scare followed by the green onion debacle at Taco Bell’s in 2006 is causing people to reevaluate their food sources. Local production is going to be increasingly prized.
10. Regionalism—As the world becomes smaller, the political boundaries of the 18th Century become less important. Visionary leaders are embracing the concept of regionalism to enhance the opportunities for their citizens.