Supporting the Impulse of the Chippewa Valley's Idea People

Nick Meyer

The inset quote below, from William James, is featured prominently in the open work area at Volume One – and its sentiment is something we’ve written about before. To some degree, the quote has been a guiding light for me personally and for Volume One’s overarching mission. So when thinking about recent developments in the entrepreneurship scene in the Chippewa Valley, on which we put the spotlight in this issue with a feature story, the quote came to mind once again. That’s because our community has taken several steps this past year in developing the infrastructure for entrepreneurship throughout the valley. It’s the community supporting the individual’s impulse – an assault against stagnation. The changes are a trend we’ve been noticing for a while, and when these advancements are taken as a whole you can see that in the Chippewa Valley, 2015 has been a breakout year – perhaps even “The Year of the Entrepreneur.”

“The community stagnates without the impulse of the individual. The impulse dies away without the interest of the community.”

Even if you feel it’s unlikely you’ll ever start a business yourself, this newfound focus is important news. That’s because a growing interest in this aspect of the region’s culture is an important indicator of where our priorities are, and it’s another way we’re becoming more future-oriented here in the Chippewa Valley. Part of the reason it’s so exciting, and hopefully sustainable, is that this energy isn’t coming from just a single source or a one-time marketing effort – it’s coming from many unrelated players at the same time, all with a stake in the game. Both upstart groups and established institutions have been independently recognizing the need for additional support and encouragement of entrepreneurial activity and thought, and they have answered the call with action. You’ve got players in higher education, economic development, business, and technology all stoking the fire this year with independent and joint efforts to improve the availability of resources for both startups and expansions of local businesses.

This “grow your own” approach to economic development can mean not only more jobs, but also the further development of a local culture that thrives on ideas. And when that culture flourishes, it permeates much more than the business world. It means improvements in quality of life, arts and music, government, underserved populations, and non-profits. It means a more cooperative and competitive environment. It means more individuals acting on their impulses to create, and more in the community supporting their efforts. The ever-growing, positive feedback loop this all creates could bring us further than this sleepy little valley ever thought possible. Or, it won’t. It depends on your impulse. And how the rest of us respond. Everyone has a role to play.

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