Innovators in Rural Community Economic Development
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  • Linda Thompson of AURI on the WealthWorks Training

Linda Thompson of AURI on the WealthWorks Training

We were attracted to the WealthWorks Training because part of our mission from the Minnesota State Legislature is to create economic development in the state for small- and medium-sized businesses in rural areas. Our executive director was introduced to and inspired by this model at the Rooting Rural Wealth Conference in Little Rock, AR and asked that we attend to learn the model.  The world is changing; more and more it’s about relationships, partnerships, and collaborations and it seems quite plausible that this is how we will achieve this piece of our mission through building rural wealth.
Oftentimes an entrepreneur or business brings an idea to AURI for a new product or process using Minnesota agricultural commodities, and we help them through our hands-on scientific assistance and project development services to bring their ideas to reality. In addition, our scientists create ideas for uses of Minnesota's commodities, and work to bring those ideas into the hands of those businesses that could commercialize the idea. One challenge we face is how to reach smaller communities and newer entrepreneurs.
The WealthWorks model expanded our thinking about entrepreneurs and communities.  I thought your group did an amazing job at the training! A lot of strong-minded people had a shift in thinking. It’s a paradigm shift to move from thinking about wealth as money to realizing we are all humans first, we all have specific needs and wants, and money is just one of them. I really liked learning about the different kinds of wealth and how we can bring the seven areas up together or at least not diminish any of them.
We want to apply what we've learned by using the WealthWorks model in a value chain that has to do with a new innovative food product; we plan to pick one place or region in rural Minnesota to work with a community or communities to build wealth and commercialize the outcomes of the food product. I think some communities are really going to embrace the WealthWorks model, and we’ll find some great success.
Linda Thompson, Organizational Development Director
Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI)

Note: Linda Thompson is a participant in the first WealthWorks Training session, which runs December 2013 to September 2014. We're delighted to share the perspectives and experiences of our colleagues and partners participating in WealthWorks Trainings. You can read more about the trainings at our WealthWorks page.