Supporting Rural Entrepreneurs

Consider how your community builds wealth. Well, as a Strong Town advocate, you may think of your local entrepreneurs, creating homegrown products and services to serve the community; or you may think of your downtown, where residents gather and use these products and services.  

Brandon Schielak—Strong Towns member and this episode’s guest on It’s the Little Things—has witnessed the value of entrepreneurship in his rural community of La Grange, Texas. They’ve built thriving businesses in downtown and contribute to La Grange’s economic ecosystem. 

But as Brandon further investigated how to support rural entrepreneurs, he discovered an opportunity that he’d later transform into a product for rural communities across North America: institutions, such as schools or nonprofit organization, still sold product produced outside the community for their local fundraisers. 

Think the magazine subscriptions or the tins of flavored popcorn that you’d pitch to your neighbors in exchange for a low payment of $50 for your elementary school. 

That’s why Brandon and his wife created The PlatForum: an online marketplace where organizations can view a catalog of local products and services, which they can use for their local fundraisers. 

Today, The PlatForum has partnered with dozens of communities across North America—with a focus on rural communities—who’ve made a small bet to reimagine how they can support local entrepreneurs, keeping their dollars in the community in the process. 

In this episode, Brandon reflects on his experiences at The PlatForum and shares how you can support rural entrepreneurs in your community, including how rural communities traditionally think of economic development, how to find and cultivate rural entrepreneurs, and—most important—how to plug them into your local, economic ecosystem.

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