Rural communities aren’t alone in their efforts to create thriving economies. Organizations like Local First Arizona can offer help. Tony Paniagua discussed the issue with Liza Noland who serves as director of rural programs. Noland works with councils and chambers in rural areas on initiatives designed to grow their economies.
“There is no shortage of effort, heart and great ideas in rural. But what they struggle with is access to money, funding for these ideas, time and people. It’s just a matter of how do we actually implement some of these ideas to help grow these communities,” Noland said. She also explained some common missteps she sees in some communities.
“‘Because we’ve always done it this way, we continue to do it this way.’ I think that’s a major misstep. I also hear a lot of, ‘We’ve tried that in the past, it didn’t work.’ And I think what’s missed in that is a lot of the time things change. There’s new momentum, there’s new energy, there’s new people involved in an initiative,” Noland said. “We don’t try new things and think outside the box.”