JOHN NEWBY: Leaders must always seek new opportunity 

John Newby

John Newby

Dallas Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban once said, “Creating opportunities means looking where others are not.”

Whether you are a community, business, or media company leader, you must constantly seek for new opportunities. One cannot rest on their current business model in these rapidly changing times.

This past week, it occurred to me that throughout the years of writing this column, I tend to focus on harnessing internal community resources to accomplish our goals and objectives. I still believe this is the most assured way to meet your goals because those internal resources are usually predictable and consistent.  That said, this past week I was able to get a taste of the importance of available outside resources, that while not always predictable and consistent, can nonetheless be game changers in your local community.

What brought this to my attention? I was able to attend a Chamber function in Pineville, Missouri where unbeknown to me, they were receiving a $50,000 grant from T-Mobile to assist with a county-wide project. It was during this award ceremony it occurred to me there are so many resources such as these which are available to those who are willing to seek after such grants, awards, rewards and so forth.

Turns out, T-Mobile has had this program for quite some time and is awarding 24 communities with $50,000 each during this award cycle. T-Mobile has committed approximately $25,000,000 to this program over a period of a few years, and I suspect or wouldn’t be surprised if this continues beyond their initial projected program length. I applaud T-Mobile for their interest in smaller communities around the country, dedicating time, money, and need I forget, hiring of 7500 employees specializing in assisting those in small and local communities.

For a community such as Pineville which is part of a broader Countywide Chamber, these types of grants can be game changers. Like many other local communities around the country, picturesque McDonald County sits in the shadow of the larger community, Bentonville, Arkansas.

This can be two-edged sword. On one hand, while the distance isn’t far, it provides an escape from the hustle and bustle, the crime and the congestion of the larger market. On the other hand, sitting in the shadow of a larger community, out-flowing dollars from these smaller communities into the larger nearby community can be a huge roadblock to increased economic development in these impacted smaller communities.

Smaller communities must find ways to fight back and retain their dollars. This is done in two ways. First as we have seen through T-Mobile, going after those types of dollars is critical and can change the course of a community. I have seen communities hire a person whose sole role is to apply for grants full time. It takes only one award to justify this position. There are literally hundreds of grants and reward opportunities in which to look at and apply for.

The second way communities can fight back is to adopt a truly local campaign educate their community to the value of thinking local. I have over 100 columns discussing ways to do this. Being Truly Local involves much more than shopping local.

It’s local government committing to spend their money local whenever possible. It is building a local marketing program that brings money into the community in lieu of businesses spending marketing dollars on out-of-market and less effective products. So easily done, yet few attempt to do this. The ones doing this make great strides in a short period of time.

Smaller communities must understand their issues are their own, there are no big brothers coming along to save the day. The saying, “put your money where your house is” has never rung truer. With each dollar spent locally being three to seven times more impactful than dollars leaving the community, small communities must find ways to keep as many dollars local as possible. With rapidly changing micro-economic conditions, key decisions made today may very well determine your long-term survival as a community.   

John A. Newby, of Pineville, Missouri is the author of “Building Main Street, not Wall Street” a weekly column appearing in communities around the country. He is CEO of Truly-Local, dedicated to assisting communities create excitement, energy and combining synergies with their local media to become more vibrant and competitive. He can be reached at