The Heartland Center for Leadership Development, an independent, non-profit organization based in Nebraska, has worked since 1985 to develop local leadership in rural communities in the United States.
The center focuses on successful small towns, noting quality of life, economy, leadership and planning. Each year, it publishes case studies of towns, which have survived difficult economic times.
It also offers the following "20 Clues to Rural Community Survival."
Evidence of community pride. Neatly trimmed yards, public gardens and well-kept parks, as well as community festivals and special events, demonstrate community pride.
Emphasis on quality in business and community life. Facilities, homes and schools are built to last. Something worth doing is worth doing right.
Willingness to invest in the future. Residents invest money, but also time and energy, in community betterment, keeping in mind how their actions will affect the lives of their children and grandchildren.
Participatory approach to community decision-making.
Cooperative community spirit. Focus on positive results through working together toward a common goal.
Realistic appraisal of future opportunities. Strategically build on the community's strengths and minimize weaknesses.
Awareness of competitive positioning. Keep tabs on businesses in other towns and stay competitive. Don't give customers an excuse to drive out of town for a product or service.
Knowledge of the physical environment. Decision-making takes into consideration the community in relation to others.
Active economic development program.
Deliberate transition of power to a younger generation of leaders.
Acceptance of women in leadership roles.
Strong belief in and support for education.
Problem-solving approach to providing health care.
Strong multigenerational family orientation.
Strong presence of traditional institutions that are integral to community life. Community activities frequently center on religious institutions, schools and service clubs.
Attention to sound and well-maintained infrastructure.
Careful use of fiscal resources.
Sophisticated use of information resources. Rural community leaders are knowledgeable about their communities beyond the information available in the community. Take advantage of university studies, census data and other resources to keep informed.
Willingness to seek help from the outside.
Conviction that, in the long run, you have to do it yourself.
The Heartland Center for Leadership Development, is at 941 `O' Street, Suite 920, Lincoln, Neb. 68508.