This week there were two events that had great similarities for me

Last Wednesday, Merredin College hosted a Wheatbelt Business Network Business After Hours to discuss education, career development and workforce placements with local businesses.

The night was well attended and discussion focused on strategies that the school, businesses and community could do to keep our young people in Merredin and the surrounding district.

The night highlighted the important relationship between local education facilities and businesses – after all our schools are training the next generation of entrepreneurs and local employees.

On Tuesday I attended a seminar in Northam with Kim Huston, author of “Small Town Sexy” which was hosted by the Wheatbelt Development Commission.

The title of her presentation made us a bit baffled.

Small town sexy? What does sexy mean? Kim explained small towns are sexy because they are seductively charming and they are endearing.

She lives in Bardstown, a small American town in Kentucky (pop 14,000) which has been voted in the top 10 small towns of America, amongst the most beautiful places and top places to retire.

Whilst 14,000 people is larger than our Wheatbelt towns, she did emphasise the importance of working collectively together to make an impact and of course Bardstown was much smaller a decade ago.

Kim’s presentation reminded those present why we like living in small towns.

We can walk or ride to work, we feel safe, we have amazing landscapes, we know our neighbours and it is cheaper than living in the city, to name a few reasons.

Plus we can have the opportunity to make and see change first hand.

How many times would those in the cities be offered leadership positions on Councils, on health advisory boards, progress associations, as sporting coaches, Presidents, advisors to the local School and how many times could you be the owner of your own business, with your own premises?

It is for these reasons that we like living in small towns and it is these reasons we should share with our young people to encourage them to stay or return to their home town.

Kim said our young people often can’t wait to get out of their small town when they have graduated from high school. Or if they have gone to boarding school, how many return?

A lot of our young people head off to their dream jobs in the cities not knowing what their own home town can offer for their chosen profession.

If these young people do want to return to their home town, sometimes we make the assumption “Oh you didn’t make it in the big city?”

Our businesses are an integral part in our community and we should be encouraging our businesses to showcase the diverse career opportunities available to our primary and secondary students before they head off to boarding school, choose their subjects or choice of tertiary education.

Our small towns should also highlight the many opportunities where you can be your own boss, where you can be creative and make an indelible mark on change.

Kim also touted the saying “Main street vs Wall St”, where you can do the same business on the main street of a small town as you would do on Wall street, thanks to a little thing called the internet.
Recently she has observed a number of families moving to her small home town of Bardstown, to escape the busy cities and hiding in small cafes in her home town, doing their Wall St business.

I am sure we can also say this of the Wheatbelt.

At both events this last week, we addressed the same issue: how do we keep our young people in our Wheatbelt towns? Discussing the issue is the first step, it is now up to us as parents, educators and businesses to help make the change.

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Contact Details

Caroline Robinson
Director of Solum Wheatbelt Business Solutions

PO Box 309, Narembeen WA 6369

Phone: (08) 9880 8035
Mobile: 0403 225 900

Wheatbelt Business Network

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