Blogs » J.Q. Tomanek of Victoria » Groundswell of Creative Thinking

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Gap hung the sign. Old Navy, see ya later. Local furniture store, Lacks, also out. Now that we have some lemons, what shall Victoria do? If there is one thing I am familiar with in my life, it is making lemonade. You have done it too. Life throws a curve ball, sucker-punch, stabbed in the back, catching a rabbit (you know when toddlers trip over thin air), rock and hard spot, hit rock bottom, etc., etc., and so forth.

A recession. Yes, it is recession time and has been for awhile. I say secede. As Texans, we are all familiar with that action. We joke about it to visitors. What is stopping us? I am not talking about being our own country. I say let’s secede from the recession. Let’s bust this joint.

These times call for a different way of thinking. We all hear, “Think outside the box.” This seems rather insane. Rather, let’s think inside the radius. But what radius? How about inside the circle of the city limits!

A plethora of pinatas. Remember that line from “Three Amigos?” Ok, it has been a long time so here is the dialogue between Jefe and El Guapo:

Jefe: I have put many beautiful pinatas in the storeroom, each of them filled with little suprises. El Guapo: Many pinatas? Jefe: Oh yes, many! El Guapo: Would you say I have a plethora of pinatas? Jefe: A what? El Guapo: A plethora. Jefe: Oh yes, you have a plethora. El Guapo: Jefe, what is a plethora? Jefe: Why, El Guapo? El Guapo: Well, you told me I have a plethora. And I just would like to know if you know what a plethora is. I would not like to think that a person would tell someone he has a plethora, and then find out that that person has no idea what it means to have a plethora.

Well, maybe we don’t need tons of piñatas even though I love the piñata for it means somebody is celebrating a birthday or holiday, but I mean we need a plethora of information and action. There is a ton of information and best practices on creating more economic development and community if we can just put the surface of the research and scratch our heads together. This link is the way Howard, South Dakota of Miner County did it, that is often mentioned by Chip Heath of "Made to Stick" and "Switch." Rather simply begun with a study from the local high school on the benefits of shopping local after they realized their rural community was shrinking and getting older. As the young adults go away to college and never come back, the local problem known as “brain drain” occurs. Their study found that if the local community spent just 10% locally, it would produce $7.5 million in tax revenues to reinvest into the local community. This seems like chump change, but Howard, SD is only 1100 people or so. This 10% local spending of 1100 residents created a pretty big impact for their little community.

What are some suggestions from my little brain that I am draining onto this blog as I pondered the issue or have read about elsewhere?

  1. Market Victoria differently if we want to be a destination. We have been known as the “Crossroads” for a long time. If Victoria wants to be a destination, it needs to market itself as the final spot, not a stop along the way. We can remain the Crossroads, but the vision needs to support the message. I think it is confusing to the citizens of Victoria to say one thing and have a vision for another. Here is what I do when I speak of Victoria: “We are the hub and those large urban areas within 2 hours are our suburbs.”

  2. Find our niche. Victoria is different than anywhere else. What does Victoria have that differentiates us from the crowd? Think S.W.O.T. What are our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats?

  3. Escape mediocrity. To desire to be just like the big places creates blandness. Nobody wants mediocrity nor does anyone pay for it unless it is the cheapest. Visitors or future citizens are similar to consumers; they will pay more for something customized or different. For example, why would we want to locate a professional baseball team here (assuming it was an option)? We can get that elsewhere. What can draw people here because we are the only place that has that something within a reasonable drive? Some inside thinking possibilities (just some thoughts that come to immediate mind to differentiate): sky diving, rodeo, food, outdoorsman sports, etc. and offer the very best of it so that Victoria tops the list of that attraction. Texan example: where do you think of going if you want to drift the river on a tube with friends? Houston? Corpus Christi? Riverwalk?

  4. Co-operative grocery store. This is an example of a local community people coming together to open a store and offering products that are needed locally. Profits are shared more widely. Here is an example.

  5. Niche higher education. For example, a program at our university that is unique to here. For example, a neighbor of ours has chosen Our Lady of the Lake University (very small school and one of like four or five universities) because it is the only one in San Antonio that has a Speech Therapy program that she needs for her career choice.

What are some of your thoughts or ideas to generate a thriving local Victorian climate? What would like to see return that has left? What are some things you have seen abroad (outside Victoria)? Are you willing to spend 10% more here than elsewhere to generate more to the local economy?