WUCA leads to community/ag success
SOUTH SIOUX CITY, NEB. – A busy farmer preparing fields for planting, or a livestock producer hurrying to get feed in the bunk for a load of cattle, may be hard put to consider what the words “welcome, understand, comfort and appreciate” or WUCA, have in common.
Frank Spillers, co-owner of Global Horizons LLC, in Omaha, focused on the WUCA Way in a presentation during the April 9 Midstates Community and Economic Development Conference in South Sioux City, Neb.
WUCA, he said, is a key ingredient in sustaining successful relationships between agriculture and the rural communities adjacent to the fields and farm lots.
“We like to think of it as the WUCA Way of getting along by welcoming new members into a community,” Spillers said, “gaining an understanding of any differences to present and long-time community residents, gaining insights into community issues and appreciating what rural communities and agriculture have to offer for the betterment of all involved.
“This is important, not only locally, but with regard to how communities and agriculture can impact nation – and global – issues.”
It’s about building relationships that aid community growth as rural family populations show signs of declining, he said. “It’s our obligation to utilize the technology available today to repopulate these areas based on technology.
“But before we do, we have to figure out why we want these communities and agriculture to grow.”
He said rebuilding is no longer dependent on the how-to, strategic planning and moving forward. “We have to be ready to transform and eventually accept change as we do at times with new technology.
“We have to look at our Midwest culture, that we say is good, and at the same time overcome instances looking at new people coming in and saying, ‘If they look like us they’re welcome, and if they look otherwise they’re not.'”
Spillers said that in his 31 years in economic development, he’s not been one to chase smokestacks, but rather to “recruit people and help build businesses from within,” accepting success measured by slow growth, rather than the big bangs.
“When we talk about agriculture,” Spillers said, “we’re talking about the second largest economic engine in the Midwest, and it’s getting bigger.
“It’s up to us to figure out how to work within agriculture, to rethink the picture of the farmer (running) into town to buy twine.
“Today, when he goes to town, (it’s for) the technology to fix the modern-day tractor. We must adapt to his needs.”
He said Iowa’s ag relationship with China has established relationships and understanding, and these relationships continue to grow.
Doug Neiner said successful community agriculture was key to his relocating from western Massachusetts to the farming community of Cumberland, in southwestern Iowa.
Neiner, a web software developer said, “I felt I needed additional family time to spend with my wife, Crystal, and our five children and to perhaps someday have a hobby farm in the country.
“A prime factor was finding a location we wanted that still had high-speed internet,” Neiner said. His wife found a web reference to the low cost of living in a farming community.
Neiner said Clarke Gerlock, a member of Cass County’s Progressive Rural Iowa Development Enterprise, and the Rev. Michael Martin, pastor of Cumberland’s First Baptist Church, assisted with his pre-arrival assessment of local phone and internet services that would meet his career web development needs.
“I feel there’s similar opportunities out there as well for others like myself,” Neiner said, “when all of us are pulling together.
“It is for us also the opportunity to start seeing our dream come true, that for a slower pace of life and a better appreciation of what living in a rural community can be.
“We’re grateful to those who’ve helped make it all possible.”
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