WESB/WBRR News Director
People with a passion and love for their community can make a difference.
That was one of the messages Jack Schultz sent to a packed Rice Auditorium Thursday night.
Schultz is the author of “Boomtown USA: The 7 1/2 Keys to Big Success In Small Towns." He's also CEO of the Boomtown Institute (Agracel Inc.), an industrial development firm specializing in the agurban market. (Agurban? We'll get to that.)
When listing his keys to success he gave examples of how several communities across the country lifted themselves up by making the right choices.
Having the right attitude is a major part of being successful. And it's not just the attitude of the people trying to make the changes that's important.
"Are you willing to back visionary people who are trying to take your community to a higher level … to create new opportunities for your kids and grandkids?" he asked. "Or are you going to listen to those curmudgeons – and every town's got 'em – those curmudgeons … that are saying 'Oh we could never do something like that here. That would never work in this town. That's too expensive for us to try?'"
"Unless you're willing to take those chances," he said, "I'm telling you right here and right now that you don't have a chance in the world to create those opportunities for your kids and your grandkids so they're going to want to come back home to Bradford."
Schultz also talked about a "hybrid version" of the curmudgeon. CAVE people.
A man he was speaking with while doing research in Missouri explained that CAVE people are very educated, articulate and well-read.
They are: Citizens Against Virtually Everything.
The man told him, "You have got to watch the CAVE people. You cannot let them take control of your community."
Aside from attitude, one of the most important keys to success, he said, is entrepreneurship – especially within the "Millennial" population – 12 to 27 year olds.
He said they will be the most entrepreneurial generation in history.
Two prime examples he pointed out were Mark Zuckerburg, the creator of Facebook, and Evan Williams who created Blogger and Twitter.
On a related note, the state Legislature is working on a package of bills named "YouLead" that aims to get the millennial generation involved in the policy making arena, support their entrepreneurial spirit and keep them from moving out of Pennsylvania after they graduate from college.
As for the future of Bradford, Schultz said the city has potential and he sees a lot of positives. Among those are the trails system, manufacturing and the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford.
Back to agurban. Schultz coined the term for the small towns in rural America with great opportunities for success with business, jobs and lifestyles. He says as people concentrate on quality of life issues, along with business, the next great population shift will be from the suburbs to the agburbs.