Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Innovation Mechanism:
Funding Vital Projects for Rural America

“The earlier changes are discerned, the earlier the opportunities they create
can be converted into innovations.”
― Peter F. Drucker, Innovation & Entrepreneurship

(This post appeared in January of 2016, and is posted again to emphasize the increasing importance of innovation to the economic prosperity of rural communities across America, now and in the future.)

Pain Points

Lack of funding for vital projects cripples rural communities across America.  It hinders the building, operation and maintenance of key facilities that contribute to a more compelling community value proposition; a value proposition  that promotes economic prosperity and other valued elements of quality living.

This in turn makes it difficult to retain residents as well as attract prospective residents.  A community’s quality of living is handicapped when desired amenities are lacking.  Such amenities include: one, up-to-date recreation facilities and programs; two, exceptional learning opportunities and programs including complementary facilities; and three, rewarding, high-paying work.  If they are absent, a number of families are forced to move to communities offering these benefits.

Consequently businesses, both existing and prospective, find it difficult to survive in a community without an adequate customer base.  They are attracted to areas that are growth oriented and pursue quality living amenities for their residents; amenities that provide a well-rounded menu of opportunity and prosperity.

Alas, lack of adequate funding hobbles local economic prosperity.  Further, making it difficult to maintain current levels of services and amenities.  It is a vicious downward cycle that, if not resolved, can lead to a community’s demise.

The Problem

There seems to be a Catch 22 for rural communities striving to obtain funding for worthwhile development projects such as recreation centers, learning facilities, parks, infrastructure, etc.  Out of convention such funding has been limited to passing a bond issue, competing for grants or soliciting donations from wealthy benefactors; limited options at best for struggling communities.

Bonding requires voter approval and even when passed, residents who opposed the bonding measure, for whatever reason, are required to help pay the bill.  Obtaining grants is a highly competitive process and in many cases do not fund entire projects.  Wealthy benefactors are few and far between and usually burdened with numerous requests.  Although these three methods have been the “go to” of funding for decades they have in many cases become a rigid, limiting mindset that excludes other viable options; options that, although less traditional, are in step with the accelerating changes in the economy.

So... where can Rural America turn to obtain the funding desperately needed to prosper in the 21st century?  What can be done to answer the accelerating pace of change in today’s world?  How can rural communities offer current and prospective residents and businesses, a more compelling community value proposition?

The Innovation Mechanism...

A mechanism is defined by as, “the means by which a purpose is accomplished”.  For our purpose, the mechanism we use to accomplish projects that strengthen the local economies of Rural America is innovation.

Through innovation answers to the above questions are generated.  Creating viable options that meet the challenges of accelerating change facing rural communities now and in the future.  It gives them an effective way to act and counter the external forces of being acted upon.  It provides them a proactive way to adapt and adjust; transforming change into opportunity.

Innovation uncovers resources that have gone unnoticed.  One example is how cell phones have morphed into powerful computing devices (smartphones); devices that are revolutionizing communication and business on a global scale.  And yet, most successful innovations “are not” of the high-tech variety.

Furthermore, through innovation, known resources are constantly put to higher and better use benefiting millions, if not billions of people worldwide.  This is just another of the many faces of innovation and how it improves the human condition and catapults it to greater prosperity in all dimensions of living.

Innovation is the mechanism for a better today and the hope of a better tomorrow.

For Rural America harnessing the power of innovation through a systematic process breathes new life into communities.  Indeed, innovation provides an economic lifeline for rural communities to prosper in today’s rapidly changing world. can rural communities lay hold on this lifeline to prosperity?  What actions can they take now to develop and implement innovations that will benefit residents now and in the months and years to come?

Harnessing the Power of Innovation

A number of resources are available to develop a prosperous culture of continuous innovation.  The following are just a few of the many that provide a foundation on which to build a systematic process for ongoing innovation in any industry, for any organization, whether in the private or public sector.


Agile Innovation, by Langdon Morris, Moses Ma & Po Chi Wu

Business Model Generation, by Alexander Osterwalder & Yves Pigneur

Innovation & Entrepreneurship, by Peter F. Drucker


Great Ideas Need Great Business Models, by Benson Garner

Business Model Warfare, by Langdon Morris

Be the Disruptor, by Clayton Christensen & David Skok

Like any worthwhile endeavor, developing the innovation mechanism requires a focused effort of learning and implementation, but for rural communities an effort that can pay huge dividends, now and in the coming years.

At Partnering Technologies we help rural communities harness the power of innovation to build more resilient and prosperous communities. Whether you are an individual or organization we can help you find solutions that get the job done. Email us today:

What Do You Think?

As always your constructive comments are encouraged and welcome.


The Silver Creek Economy blog is sponsored by Partnering Technologies, an Arizona-based Learning & Development Company.  Their focus is helping rural communities across the country and throughout the world build and maintain prosperous, thriving local economies through the systematic application of innovation principles and methodologies.  Its founder is Jim Sanderson. Contact him at

Visit their website at and find out how their Strategic Partnering Program can help you build a more prosperous career now and in the coming years.

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