Written by Patty Decker Tuesday, 29 January 2013 14:10
Almost 200 people attended the second annual Marion-Hillsboro Joint Chamber of Commerce dinner Monday in the Marion Community Center Ballroom.
In addition to the dinner, silent auction and other door prizes, Don Macke, director of RUPRI Center for Rural Entrepreneurship, was the featured speaker.
Don Noller, president of the Marion Chamber of Commerce, introduced Macke noting that he has more than 30 years of experience in rural community economic development.
“He has served in the Nebraska Legislature, the cabinet of the Nelson Administration in Nebraska and served as a consultant in nearly 40 states, Canada and the Caribbean,” Noller said.
In his remarks, Macke said he wanted to share 10 keys to community success.
“This is the 38th year of doing this kind of work,” he said, “and I have had the good fortune of learning from these communities working very hard.”
Macke said he hoped to challenge people to set their sights high and embrace the idea of prosperity.
“Prosperity begins to take us closer to the kind of community we want to live in,” he said. “A place where our kids and grandkids want to come back to.
“What are we doing to create prosperity in our community?” he asked.
For a large number of Americans, he said, the Great Recession was the first downturn many had in their lives.
“For those of us older Americans, it was the inflation of the 1980s and when businesses failed.”
In explaining, Macke said that a lot of Americans lost confidence that times could be better.
During his presentation, Macke also suggested Chamber members read Richard Florida’s book, “The Great Reset,” which compares the 2008 through 2012 global recession to similar times in recent history—the 1870s and the 1930s.
What Florida argues, he said, is that in times of economic downturn, there isn’t recovery, but rather fundamental changes.
“In difficult times, there are opportunities with the status quo turned on its head,” he said.
Macke shared some of his thoughts about Marion County.
He said the county has a “great location” in a triangle formation with Wichita, Kansas City and the Interstate 70 corridor.
“Marion County is close to several million consumers, businesses and government entities, but with a small town quality of life,” he said.
Part of that means there is no congestion and crime, but also it means stability, he explained.
“One of the things people look for in a community is stability,” he said, “and small communities can offer that—it is an asset.”
Although small communities have been hit with the Great Recession, too, historically, he said, they remain overall stable.
However what faces every community in this entire region from Canada into west Texas is how we stabilize the populations.
“Compared to a lot of counties,” he said, “you guys are in good shape.”