When Crazy Ideas Actually Work!!


On July 29th, 2021, we officially launched Growing Small Towns to the public and unveiled our newly renovated—albeit not 100% completed!—physical location at 510 Main Avenue in Oakes, ND, population 1,800.


We hosted what we called the Rural Resources Roadtrip where we chartered a bus out of Fargo and invited specific Fargo-Moorhead leaders to spend the day (it was a FULL day, too!) touring down through our rural region, stopping at a few strategic locations, and ending at our facility.


We actually recorded a recent podcast episode with one of the bus riders, where we give a better overview of the day and you can pick that up HERE.


This post isn't about the event itself, but if you want details, just reach out! We don't try new things to hoard them for ourselves...that's not who we are!


The intention of this post is to share the incredible impact of this event.


Microsoft sponsored this event for $5,000. That investment paid for the bus, the food, the drinks, the promotional materials, and we actually met our event budget.


Because their philanthropic arm likes to see an impact from their investments, they recently asked for that information.


As I started to add up the impact, I was truly blown away and decided it HAD to be shared!


I'll break this down into several categories as listed below. I left the organizations' names out of the descriptions to maintain confidentiality.


Grant opportunities:

  • Partnership to deploy a tool offered through an FM organization to our region: approx. $100k

  • USDA RISE grant: $75k

  • Local JDA: $25k

Partnership proposals currently in process:

  • Regional utilities co-op: $15,000

  • Regional tele-comm co-op: $25,000

  • State consulting group: $10,000

Revenue generated (due to organizations coming back and booking our facility spaces):

  • $1,450

Non-revenue partnerships/collaborations, but these STILL matter because it multiplies our collective impact:

  • Association to address rural housing issues

  • Consulting firm to support non-profits in our region

  • 3 different for-profit entities to discuss the development and implementation of a Rural Champion program to improve the chances of these companies successfully hiring rural people for their remote job opportunities

  • Exploratory year of the development of an immersive arts curriculum to launch in Oakes

When was the last time you invested $5,000 and generated over $250,000 in impact? I realize these are not all done deals yet, but you know what? They're also not all only one-time deals!


The relationships we fostered through this day cannot be overemphasized! You really do get to know each other when you're stuck on a bus for a whole day!


I learned so much through this experience, but the biggest lesson was this: if it feels right, DO IT! I never doubted that this idea felt like the right move for me to launch GST. I really didn't know how it would all play out. I mean, what if no one gets on my bus?!?

But you know what, with genuine enthusiasm, sincere interest in others, and a heart for showing off my rural region, PEOPLE GOT ON THE BUS!


We let them experience who we are. Show them what we're about.


And now, we have all of them as new friends and partners of our organization.


That is an impact worth sharing! I'd love to hear your thoughts! Shoot me an email at director@growingsmalltowns.org or reach out on social!


To growing your small town,

Rebecca