Friday, March 25, 2011

Challenges and Benefits of Retiring

…To a Rural Community.
By Matthew G. Soltis

Baby-boomer Retirees Head for the Hills.
By all reports, a continuously growing retired population is in-migrating into rural communities, attracted by many of the amenities for which they have been searching and which many of these communities have planned to offer to attract them. A better quality of life and neighborly spirit, personal safety, local shops, inns and restaurants, business opportunities,  more than adequate healthcare services and a sense of importance to the community are just a few of these sought-after amenities.
The 65 and older population reached 38 million in 2008 and based on Bureau of census recent projections the over 65 age group will expand to 85 million by 2050. Rural communities can enhance their competitive position in recruiting retirees by expanding on their social infrastructure.   In the next five years the number of retired in- migrants will continue to increase and they bring with them multiple sources of retirement income, better education, better health, earlier retirements, and longer lives than the current generation of retirees. Those in-migrating will continue to be a favorable source for economic improvement to rural communities.

A New Industry Emerges in Rural America
A report from the State of Nebraska, one source we covered, states that counties, designated as retirement sites report the largest increase in personal income and employment among all non-metropolitan counties in that state.
The in-migration of the retiree boosts the local economy and increases the tax base. Large investments in infrastructure or tax abatements are not required by host communities. Retirees do not pollute or destroy the environment. They increase the number of volunteers and contributors benefiting many organizations within the community. Obviously then, retirement is a good industry to recruit for economic development.
As a result of understanding the potential benefits of this new, retirement, industry, more communities are beginning to recruit retirees. Some governmental units, universities and non-profit organizations are getting involved with project and job creation. Examples are common in housing and community development in Florida, Arizona, and Arkansas and in entrepreneurship programs such as the one hatched from the Texas Center for Rural Entrepreneurship where in, community planning includes a focus on the local and in-migrating entrepreneurs and retirees for their assistance in the community’s programs for the retention of current local businesses and the development and support of new business. The retirees in particular are sought to mentor, coach and even finance new start-up businesses developed locally to service needs of the retiree, newcomer and the community at large.
Retirement income benefits local economies by increasing the demand for local goods and services, creating a source of investment funds, and generating a deposit base for financing community development projects. Retirement income can lead to job creation in the same way that industrial payrolls generate jobs in the community. Retirees spend their income in the local economy, creating a demand for goods and services. When the demand to supply ratio becomes more favorable for investment and employment, capital and labor follow, stimulating economic growth in areas where current rates of under-employment are critically high.
Rural communities are benefiting from the wave of incoming retiree dollars. That trend is expected to continue and will transform the economic structure of many more communities in the future. The major aspects of these local economies will be food, travel, recreation, entertainment, and health care services.

The Coming Attractions.
Communities, with successful programs to attract and relocate retirees, will benefit. Attracting tourists and retirees are viable economic development options in those communities currently having the necessary infrastructure in place that fit the existing economic situation. But, as part of the plan to attract newcomers additional planning steps are encouraged and being taken. Today, these progressive models of rural economic development programs share the same approach. As examples, the communities place less emphasis on industrial recruitment as was there history. They view entrepreneurs as the foundation for developing a viable economy and are more focused on local assets of the community to attract both the retiree and the entrepreneur. What the newcomer can also discover through their due diligence of a community working to attract them is the community’s commitment to informative communication. It is important to be able to give the community exposure and communicate with the retiree and other prospective newcomers.
It was learned in a review of their communication planning, that the ability to access community web sites, was a key tool used by new residents and retirees in their relocation decision process. It was also clear that retirees, like new real estate buyers typically were challenged in finding the right kind of community information, on community or real estate web sites. Instead of the web sites making it easy for them to find information, they made it difficult and often undersold the community and region.
For those who are completely new to the area, they may have lots of questions about issues that current residents take for granted.
To correct things these communities are looking more introspectively and are preparing more content rich informative websites. In the development of these sites they have been urged to assemble focus groups to extract the necessary types of information needed by prospective visitors.
Being identified as a community being attractive to retirees and other new residents as well as being poised to encourage and provide guidance to the entrepreneur, only eases its ability  to serve and to grow.   

 Retirees and the Entrepreneur 
The regional director for Rural Development at the USDA, Paco Valentin identified to us that, “President Obama’s and Secretary Vilsack’s vision, which I fully endorse is the implementation of initiatives that emphasize expanding exports, linking farm production to local consumption, producing biofuels and renewable energy, capitalizing on broadband, and innovatively using natural resources as wealth building tools for a stronger more prosperous rural America”.  It seems to be clear as to how retirees can help entrepreneurs in rural communities but, is it realistic to expect those entrepreneurs to be planning a business as big as those just mentioned or is it feasible for the retiree and the entrepreneur to take on a business that might service or facilitate those initiatives? The answer lies in the inventory of talents, tools and assets available to them. Certainly some of those larger projects may be overwhelming so a look at the business-to-business (B2B) service group may have to be investigated.

Services to these initiatives 
All of the professional and technical assets available to the entrepreneur should be set against the needs of the bigger projects and soon the idea for a specific B2B enterprise will emerge.
Most often seen to emerge after this assessment are those familiar to all businesses; legal services, accounting, insurance, banking, logistical services, real estate, communication, and computer or information services just to name a few. Our study of the needs of both consumer user and the service providers led us briefly to B2B franchise businesses available to connected communities.
For examples of services, packaged by franchises, we found these to be applicable to these USDA rural initiatives.
Broadband: E-commerce business development, the application that gives a whole array of online services to:
  • Traditional, store-front businesses serving local markets that increased their market ranges and sales through e-commerce.
  • Virtual or online businesses that conduct all of their marketing and sales through e-commerce.
  • Rural businesses that adopted e-commerce primarily to reduce marketing inputs
and costs.
  • Rural businesses that use e-commerce primarily for business-to-business (B2B)
  • Rural businesses that use e-commerce primarily for business-to-consumer (B2C)

Export Business. Developing and using the skills of the entrepreneur in helping  that type of business with their marketing, sales, logistics, legal and accounting functions.
Linking the Farmer to the Consumer.
Setting up a farmers market; Providing logistical support i.e. storing and transport services; Developing a producers cooperative allowing for large quantities of foodstuff can be sold to  supermarkets in the area; Making available real estate for diverse farming and livestock, organic gardening and other smaller parcels of land to meet the needs of the new producer.

This is really the concept of asset-based community development. Through a comprehensive community asset assessment the town can stimulate the creation of an environment for mobilizing local citizens around their current local assets.         
Local assets may include resident individuals, retirees and other newcomers, associations, universities, institutional and from hidden economic assets such as the transfer of personal wealth upon death. Others would be cultural and historic, and natural resource assets.
To maximize the impact of their individual efforts, real estate firms, lenders, public agencies, and the private sector will be more successful creating new business and jobs by working together and leveraging their combined resources, and by focusing on local assets, local innovation, and local uniqueness.

The Team the REALTOR and the Retiree.
A great deal of experience in team-building, networking and marketing the forte of the REALTOR has been one of the first area representatives sought for a position on this Assessment Committee. The rural real estate agent typically can handle relocation whether the need is residential, farm or ranch. Two other assets are needed. To be well connected in the local environment and also has the ability to visit agents working with Retirees in the big cities. So his/her mobility is surly an asset to the community programs to improve its economy and attractiveness.                                                             

As this report illustrates, rural community economic improvement program is taking on new forms. While many state rural improvement programs still focus their available resources on business recruitment, the new models successfully use public and private resources to develop community capacity for fostering and sustaining local entrepreneurial activity.
The communities are seeing the recent in-migration of retirees as opportunities to access outside capital and skill sets not commonly found locally. As opportunities for innovation in rural communities emerge, identifying local assets and reorganizing the social and economic structure around unique products and services including those tapped from the retiree may provide a foundation to support small entrepreneurial efforts as well as fast growing businesses.
Business and community leaders interested in generating a new economy including job creation may find it more effective to work with a community support coalition and use public resources to fill in any of those not found in the private and institutional sector. Local real estate, insurance agencies and public accounting firms, along with banks and other financial businesses have an important role to play in supporting the emergence of rural entrepreneurship.
The roles include participation in local coalitions focused primarily on supporting entrepreneurial activity in their community, identifying potential entrepreneurs, and providing guidance for business plan development and financing options for these future and current business owners. The coalition can also support and help develop local foundations for wealth transfer to provide alternative funding support for entrepreneurial activities. The banks and other lending enterprises through Community Reinvestment Act and other types of motivating loans and investments may be one way to leverage local wealth transfer and capacity building in this particular area. The cooperative efforts of local businesses, support from retirees and the open-mindedness of the community to creative thought and innovation by entrepreneurs will get the job done.

Our thanks go out to long list of folks who contributed to our education.

John C. Allen is the director of the Western Rural
Development Center located at Utah State University,

Dr Greg Clary, director of Texas Center for Rural Entrepreneurship
Texas A&M University

Cheryl Burkhart-Kriesel
Extension Specialist, Community Development
Panhandle Research and Extension Center

Randy Cantrell, University of Nebraska Rural Initiative
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Paco Valentin, director of Rural Development ,
United States Department of Agriculture

John Kretzmann, co-director Northwestern University
Asset-Based Community Development Institute.

Karen Hamrick,   Amber Waves Magazine
Karen’s team produced a collection of concise brochures highlighting the

And all the folks from Baker, Oregon home of the Enterprise Growth Initiative,
BEGIN, and one of their most creative entrepreneurs, Donna Stone, the coffee roaster.

Monday, March 14, 2011


A Formula for Job Creation,
Economic Improvement and Community Attractiveness.

By Matthew G.Soltis

After our research and review of the improvement plans of economically troubled communities it was very apparent all had consistent goals, that of growing sustainable population, retaining Main Street businesses, improving infrastructure and improving the business attractiveness of the community. The paramount factor in all plans for success was the encouragement of entrepreneurship. Community organized and run programs through which entrepreneurs are attracted, recruited and helped in starting and growing their business.

Examination of Entrepreneurship Programs

In discussions with Dr Greg Clary at Texas A&M University, Center for Rural Entrepreneurship we found that the following critical steps needed to be taken by the communities in planning, recruiting and assisting local entrepreneurs. “First”…Clary says, “The community must contact the Center and express their intent to apply for the Entrepreneur Ready Community certification”, an initiative produced by the University and administered by the Center. After an orientation session which is facilitated by the Center and community leadership. Materials which outline the certification process are presented and discussed. A check list used by the Community contained the following condensed steps in this process:
  • Form a leadership team to facilitate the plan and to provide oversight.
  • Assessments of the community and the needs assessment of the entrepreneur and current business are to be completed and discussed.
  • Develop networks of support professionals, entrepreneurs and local business owners together with local resources for obvious educational benefit of all.
  • Give access to capital strategies identified by the forgoing actions.
  • Provide workshops at which information beneficial to the development of this plan can be disseminated.
  • Finally, to develop a long-term action plan for program sustainability.
As you can imagine the development guide is extensive in detailing the steps and depends is a word most heard in answer to questions relating to estimated time necessary to complete each task and to arrive at a finished project.

Similar research was done with Rutgers University; The Center for Urban Entrepreneurship & Economic Development, DR D.L.Ogalvie,  and much was learned about the outsourcing of consult and other professional advisors to urban entrepreneurs. From what we learned of the services delivered to urban entrepreneurs it was suggested the following information be reviewed by prospective professional consultants wishing to contract with the community and/or the individual entrepreneur.

MAGU Worldwide is interested in sharing the following skills needed and how they are directed at the entrepreneur and offered at packaged fees.

  • Start-up  Plan Development
Included with the details of services are these quick offering summaries:
    1. This is for entrepreneurs with new ventures that need to get a quick start
    2. You will have two (2) intensive 2-hour strategic planning sessions
    3.  And two (2) 90-minute sessions with a business advisor to create your plan for moving forward.

  • Business Review and Assessment:  An expert from our business plan review team will be assigned to your project and explain the process of planning your business.  
1.      The expert will schedule personal meeting with you to review your plans and discuss your business and will provide you with a verbal Plans Critique that will offer suggestions ways that you can improve your business plan.  
2.      A reviewer will be available to re-read your updated plan and will provide final feedback via email. Additional planning meetings may be required.

  • Business Plan Development: 
MAGUWW will assign a professional associate to work with you to prepare:
1.      Professional business plan that will facilitate funding efforts, and serve as an operational guide for management.  
2.      During the term of this project, we will also provide general strategic advice with respect to business matters relating to or affecting your ability to carry out the functions for which the business plan is being developed.
3.      The business plan development process includes:
1) Investigation,
2) Business Plan Preparation,
3) Review
4) Delivery.  Deliverables include bound and electronic copies of your business plan.  Pricing is based on the complexity of the financial model, amount of money being sought, amount of money being raised and type of funding being sought.

  • Financial Modeling/Financial Assumption Development
Many people write long business plans that never answer the question... How does this business make money?
1.      To properly answer that you will be assigned an advisor and business coach to work with you to develop a logical financial model that you can agree with..  
2.      After providing your business plan, your coach will have one (1) scheduled personal meeting with you and three to five telephoned coaching sessions to discuss components of your business model, assumptions, case scenarios and formatting.

  • PowerPoint Presentation Development:
A presentation expert will work with you to prepare a PowerPoint presentation.  Material for the presentation will be taken from your business plan or other similar text.  Our experts know how to develop presentations that focus the viewer on the key points that you want to make.  Your presentation will be developed considering the business subject matter, formatting clarity, story development and presentation style.  The overall goal is to make sure that your presentation clearly conveys the intended message to the target audience.

  • Verbal Business Presentation.
          The best presentation delivered poorly will not get you the result you want.  
A verbal presentation coach will work with you in four (4) hours of a scheduled series of personal meetings to refine your presentation in your voice and style.

A Call to Action

We at MAGU Worldwide ask you to give us some feed back on each one of these formerly submitted proposal items. It is not clear whether these were all part of one package or some submitted separately by individual consultants. What we know is that they were examples of what had been submitted to the University Center.

We would also like you to submit your profile and identify the areas of your expertise for our database of qualified business consultants willing to serve with us in rural communities. There is no prerequisite for living in or having knowledge in rural towns to serve with us in this undertaking.
Please share your ideas and research with us on how to best service these communities and the hundreds of entrepreneurs and local small businesses applying to these Programs.

For the fastest response please email me at  and use the word RURAL on the subject line. Let’s talk Business!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Business Advisor or Consultants role in Rural Entrepreneurship

By Matthew G. Soltis
As a business consultant you may have some thoughts as to how you may get involved with these communities and entrepreneurs. Through local and state non-profit organizations you can become very involved. Caution: the area you are about to enter should be accessed only after some study and introspection of your talents and time available. Most that enter become addicted. If you are determined to become involved please read and follow up with some of the programs that follow.
The Texas Center for Rural Entrepreneurship is a nonprofit 501(c)3 Texas corporation whose primary goal is to stimulate and support entrepreneurship in rural communities. This is accomplished through a virtual incubation system that provides education, information and technical assistance to entrepreneurs and community leaders and creating and growing businesses by connecting entrepreneurs and their communities with the capital, management and leadership resources they need to be successful
The Center’s vision is that of an entrepreneurial rural Texas, generating jobs, wealth, prosperity, and improved quality of life in dynamic and sustainable communities that are ensuring their heritage while fully participating in local, national, and international markets.

Entrepreneur Ready Communities
Entrepreneurs and the businesses they create represent the economic future of
rural communities. This is true whether the entrepreneurial ventures are new or
growing. Small startup companies at a minimum provide self employment, while
growing businesses often create a significant number of jobs.
The Center works with communities providing assessments, educational programs,
planning and other important elements of a program that leads to certification as an
Entrepreneur Ready Community.

Entrepreneur Guides
Individuals with an interest in supporting entrepreneurs in their community can
gain certification as an Entrepreneur Guide through our program. Criteria are posted on the web. They consist of participating in educational programs, providing technical assistance, offering educational programs and other activities.

Communities in Economic Transition
Consistent with active learning and action-oriented approaches, CET programs include:
• Community self-study and planning for economic diversification;
• Informational materials and technical assistance to help communities implement local plans;
• Local and inter-community workshops and discussion forums;
• Local and project progress monitoring;
• Networks of contacts with a wide variety of groups.
Rural Community Colleges Alliance
This alliance of colleges help rural communities:
Focus on their assets
Honestly assess and address community problems
Work to build broad-based leadership and an inclusive, collaborative civic culture
Build commitment to equity and excellence
Seek out new ideas and encourage a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship
Understand the inextricable link between education and economic prosperity, and work simultaneously to improve education and build the regional economy
RUPRI Center for Rural Entrepreneurship
The RUPRI Center for Rural Entrepreneurship provides communities across rural America with the resources for implementing entrepreneurship as a core economic development strategy.
The Center, located jointly in North Carolina, Nebraska, and Missouri, applies practice-driven research, development tools, and consultation services in participation with many partners – rural communities, development practitioners, researchers, and policymakers.
The Center's mission is to enable every rural resident to achieve his or her full entrepreneurial potential. To achieve this mission, the Center's work focuses on three key concepts – study, learn, and engage. T
The Center actively studies entrepreneurship development through practice-driven research in collaboration with a wide range of partners. Building on this knowledge base, the Center creates opportunities for community leaders and policy makers to learn about rural entrepreneurship through training, an electronic newsletter, development tools, and other mechanisms for learning in person and virtually.
The Center also engages community and regional leaders by bringing new models, such as Hometown Competitiveness, and new tools, such as Transfer of Wealth, directly to rural regions in a more hands-on, strategic approach. By applying these three concepts, the Center is committed to connecting economic development practitioners and policy makers across rural America to the resources needed to energize entrepreneurs and to implement entrepreneurship as a core rural economic development strategy.


Greg Clary, PhD
Economist, Texas AgriLife Extension Service
Chairman, Texas Center for Rural Entrepreneurship
Extension Economist: Greg is primarily responsible for continuing education and leadership in rural entrepreneurship and economic development, in business capitalization, and in rural business management. This includes providing educational programs and technical assistance on management issues such as business planning; feasibility analysis; implementing, and evaluating production and operations methods; budgeting; developing and evaluating marketing alternatives; value-added business opportunities; financial management; and business performance analysis. It also includes developing and working with collaborations and communities supporting rural entrepreneurs and local economic development.
Chairman of the Board, the Texas Center for Rural Entrepreneurship (TCRE
Greg Clary, PhD, Chairman

M.G.Soltis, Author                                                                                                                                                                    MAGUConsultancy for Entrepreneurs   
214 763-1433                                                                                               
Please submit a brief on your Business Consulting experience if you have an interest in working with the Texas entrepreneur.

Don Macke 1s Director of Strategic Engagement and the Center’s Project Director for HomeTown Competitiveness, a partnership between the Nebraska Community Foundation, the RUPRI Center for Rural Entrepreneurship, and the Heartland Center for Leadership Development. Don was a founding co-director of the RUPRI Center in 2001. Don’s role is to lead the Center’s efforts to support practitioners working in their landscapes to build entrepreneurship development systems and programs, including one-on-one mentoring, training and strategic planning. Don brings to the Center’s work over 30 years experience in rural community economic development as a practitioner at the state, regional and local levels.
Copyright © 2010 Materials on the public portions of this site may be used with appropriate attribution to the RUPRI Center for Rural Entrepreneurship.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Making of a Perfect Storm in Rural America.

In economic studies of rural communities there are a few negative findings and countering positive findings, positioning themselves for a climactic event…the timing is not known but is certain the event will be awe-inspiring.

The leading negative elements in this event have been identified as: negative economic growth, rural communities losing downtown business, rural underemployment, and a real community killer, lacking new business attraction.
According to USDA Economic Research Services recent studies point to the negative trends in rural town population. (For the last 20 years there has been a net 20% out migration rate.) Outmigration coupled with high Underemployment rates in most rural areas are causing great concern with rural community leaders who are looking for remedies to cure their Main Street and general economic woes.

The positive elements will be the leadership of the community willing to take up a community plan for economic improvement that focuses on training. Business training for all current businesses to prevent the erosion of Main Street and entrepreneurial training for those entrepreneurs attracted to a new Rural Entrepreneurship program. These training programs are being spearheaded by non-profit organizations and professional entrepreneurship consultants. They ae also supported by rural community colleges

Entrepreneurship is a vital rural economic development strategy. There are several reasons for the increasing interest in entrepreneurship especially in rural cities and towns.
  • First, the traditional approaches to business recruitment and retention are just not working for many rural communities
  • Town leaders and local economic development groups are looking for viable alternatives.
  • Key to their efforts is the attraction of entrepreneurs from which to stimulate economic improvement in these communties and reach an important goal of any economic program today...job growth.
From government and academic studies there is a vast amount of supporting evidence to indicate the critical roles that entrepreneurs and small businesses play in driving local and national economies. The structure of rural economies is essentially composed of small enterprises, which are responsible for most of the job growth and the innovation. Developed by entrepreneurs, small businesses represent an important part of commerce for most rural economies and business innovation and expansion planning drive jobs.

We may now think of it as a storm in an area of current economic drought…and one we can deal with better than ever before.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Introduction to MaguWorldwide

Who we are and what we do:

MaguWorldwide is a Consultancy Serving Entrepreneurs

It is no secret that a very high percentage of startups and small businesses fail because of their lack of administrative, accounting, and finance skills. While having great strengths in the technical areas the founders have brought to the business many are burdened with great weaknesses in marketing and sales. We know we can assist.
MaguWorldwide will assign, to each client, a multi-disciplined group of professionals to serve as interim administrators, planners, and marketing and sales consultants.  We do those things that our clients don't want to do, know how to do, and don’t have the time to do. Or, that we are able to do more efficiently.
Our focus is now on how to make their businesses make money. The more our clients learn from us the better off they become. But our first obligation is to do those things that will build successful businesses.

What We Need:

As you can see, our business model appears to be overweighed for one client. The fact is we are focusing on several organizations that represent more than five prospects, each needing our assistance. This approach offers the organization and the individual small businesses a one-stop shop.
We are looking for candidates for our skunkworks. If you have one of the disciplines mentioned we would like to hear from you.