Spreading seeds

For the last few years, Marty and I have enjoyed stimulating discussions about tourism, business growth, and niche markets. We love to examine trends and watch shows like Shark tank and The Profit. I love to read and listen to pod casts on the organic movement and the growing need for sustainable living. These broad and varied interests especially intrigue us as we travel to other cities.

We often compare the cities we travel amongst to our own Richland Center and the Driftless area. And we love to contrast Richland Center to neighboring towns like Viroqua, Spring Green and Reedsburg. We have watched many of the rust belt cities, such as Buffalo, Cleveland and Milwaukee, reinvent themselves. We have seen the explosive growth in Denver, the Bay area and Austin. We are always intrigued by downtown revitalization projects seen in many American cities. Urban and suburban life is drastically changing everywhere. We have also seen the slow death of rural life in some areas. We want so much more for our area and believe it can be possible.

In the past couple of years, we got involved in politics, thinking we could change our quality of life thru the political process. And while we believe change can happen in government, we are a little frustrated by systemic issues that plague true representation and the speed of change. Moving forward, we believe change may come more quickly to our area with business creation and tourism growth.

When we compare and contrast Richland Center to other areas of the United States, we truly find this area to be full of positives. In the past, if you had read some of the local Facebook groups, there would be many negative comments by naysayers quick to point out how awful it is in Richland Center. Thankfully, there seems to be a decrease in the negativity but there are still a few quick to be negative. I really believe they fail to see the positives in our area. Do they ever travel and see more than Richland county? Do they go to average American cities or do they travel only to big cities and all-inclusive resorts?

I can speak personally, for myself, I have traveled to over 150+ American cities and walked the downtown streets of many of them. Granted, most are significantly bigger than Richland Center, but they all seek to provide the same things. Vibrant communities, great schools, equitable employment, safe neighborhoods, affordable housing, recreational opportunities and communities where families thrive. Many look at the things we lack and forget the things we do have.

Our desire to start Ridge and Valley Tours began with a question, “how do we effectively cause change to happen in Richland county?” And it started with a famous adage, “do what you love and you will never work a day on your life.” Well, we decided to stop waiting for nice things to come to Richland Center. We are choosing to roll up our sleeves and do the work. We believe business creation can have a great impact. We can see the possibilities and together, we have the skill sets to make this endeavor happen.

We believe it is important to stay active in government and be involved in civic duties. The city council and county government can only do so much and they both are limited greatly by state funding. We are convinced this community is strong because of its civic organizations, schools and churches. The recent outpouring of care and concern for Scott & Kelly Coppernoll has been truly a sight to behold. And we see opportunities to invest in the future with our business and our personal pocket books. We encourage all to spend their hard-earned money with local businesses.

So, how can our friends, neighbors and customers get involved in causing change to come to Richland Center? We really believe collectively, that we will get the most bang for our buck with tourism. And anything that promotes this beautiful area. You see, we have something very special here. If you don’t see it, then please leave for awhile. The only way we move forward is to be free of negative attitudes. There have been some in our community pushing for change for a long time. And many are moving forward. We need to look at projects like the pool/splashpad and the AD German Warehouse renovation as future assets and not liabilities. The return on our investment in this community will be tangible and intangible. We can have nice things.

One very simple thing to do to increase tourism is to change your words. And realize we are all part of the public relations campaign of Richland county. As we promote this area, people will come. And spend their money. And stay in our Airbnbs and enjoy our “off the grid” lifestyle. They will see the stars, gaze on our hills, smell our fresh air, delight in watching wildlife and connect with nature. Then they will fall in love with these hills. Like many before them have done. Like many of our own ancestors did. Like maybe you did.

Some will come back and some will not. But, we can extend hospitality to them and give them something that they are missing for a bit. When they feel loved and welcomed, they will want to be a part of the Driftless. That might involve them buying real estate or investing in local projects. That might be as simple as them buying a cup of coffee and renting a kayak. As we meet their needs, their assets meet ours.

So, how do we engage in public relations for this area? How do we spread the word? We do that with our words, our social sharing and our conversations in the marketplace. We encourage our local business owners and buy first from them whenever possible. And, we support new endeavors like The Driftless online magazine.

Marty and I just met an interesting couple at the viewing of Decoding the Driftless premier at the auditorium, living right here in our very midst. They are Dion & Holly Puzon. They live in Richland Center and have begun a new online magazine. They have vast previous experience with another online magazine and are now branching out to start a local one. We find this very exciting and have decided to invest in their product by advertising with them for the next year. We really have no idea if this will bring us customers or not but we see an opportunity. We see a possibility to spread awareness of this area. The magazine covers the whole Driftless area, all four states. It includes articles about current events, niche markets and unique sights to see. It is in an easy to read format, thoughtfully designed and looks truly professional! It’s a platform and a marketing piece we all can help grow and be proud of.

So what’s the cost for The Driftless Magazine? Absolutely nothing at this time. They have an introductory price of FREE. No gimmicks, no credit card needed. I read thru the whole magazine last night and I am very delighted to see our advertisements on the pages and sliding across the banner. We, as advertisers, pay for your ability to read it. And we believe this is gonna be a great investment for our area and our business. But the magazine only becomes impactful with your subscription and your word-of-mouth sharing.

We challenge you to subscribe first. Free. Easy peasy. Then we challenge you to spread awareness by sharing the link on your social accounts. And we invite you to tell your friends and family living further away to subscribe. They can read the magazine and stay connected to the area. It’s a great way to see what is going on in the whole Driftless region. There are so many cool things-you might want to do a stay-cation this summer!

Professional marketing pieces like this magazine are supported by advertisers and advertisers are supported by you and the people we draw to the area, our customers.We have an amazing line up of partner sites for our tours this summer. We have had so much interest, we honestly have been a bit over whelmed. We have been living here all of our lives and we are now just learning of some of the many farms and niche businesses in our local area. We are dedicated to promoting the zone, we call the triangle, between Viroqua, Spring Green and Reedsburg. Those towns are doing just fine but we need a little love in Richland County! Help us spread the love around, spread the word and spread a little hospitality. We are good at farming in Richland county! Many of you know the parable of the sower-well, we are called “Rich-land” Center for a reason, let’s start living like it! All we need to do is plant some seeds, water them and we will see the growth.

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