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On Hand Development recently held our annual strategic planning session where we identified success stories and struggles in our community. We talked about how our number one priority right now is helping current businesses thrive and stay open during this difficult time. One of the other topics we discussed is making new folks to Miller feel connected. We have lost some families and individuals because they didn’t feel connected here. Not welcomed. Not involved. Connected.

Some people might ask, “How is that Economic Development?” Well… my answer is simple. If people that move to Miller aren’t connected, will they stay? Will they work here, start a business here, raise their family here, shop here if they aren’t connected to someone or something? Economic Development is about so much more than the number of jobs or businesses in a community. 

So here is our struggle. First, how do we know who is new to our community? Yes, we have board members with connections to the school, hospital, and church but what about the other community members who slip thru the cracks? I am asking Hand County for help with this one. If you know someone new to our community, reach out to me. My goal is to connect them to someone or something in our community that they will enjoy. We have different people with different interests and personalities who might be better than myself for that person, so we will connect that new person with someone. We have a lot of fun activities for everyone to do in our area, but new people to town might not know about them.

Second, when someone is new to our community, try and get them involved in the conversation. Miller is known to be very welcoming but also known for being very traditional. Avoid comments like, “You wouldn’t understand because you aren’t from here.” Or, “This is tradition and the way we always do it here.” These comments make people who aren’t from this area feel disconnected. (I know this from experience because I am not from here and heard these statements.) It’s hard to be involved in the conversation when you “aren’t from here” and you don’t know what they are talking about. Tradition is very important but we need to remember that not everyone cares about how big our band was 30 years ago or how we did things in business 47 years ago. 

We need our community to come together to make everyone feel connected, not just the people born and raised here. We realize that people will always move for different reasons, but if we can keep just one family or person here by making them feel connected to our community think of the possibilities! We might have a future business owner or more kids in our school. I had some very special people who made me feel connected from the get go and look what Hand County got from that… two kids in a school system, an Economic Development Director, volunteer, business owner, and community cheerleader! Being connected to your community works keeping people here.  

Give me a call if you know someone new to our area and let’s get them connected right away because no more than ever, we need each other.

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