Despite conventional folk wisdom, small towns do have a future, and can succeed, said Milan Wall, a leadership and economic development consultant.
Wall, founder of the Nebraska-based Heartland Center for Leadership Development, gave a presentation Tuesday on the "Six myths about the future of small towns" to about 50 area Tucumcari residents.
The success of small communities is directly linked to its leadership, said Wall, who is also co-director of the center.
"A key to success is 'what do you do with what you have,'" Wall said. "Our main purpose here is to help your community look at the assets already in place to help Tucumcari build stronger economic days."
Some of the myths Wall covered, included "towns that are too small have no future."
The definition of rural is a county that has less then 50,000 residents, which means there are a lot of rural counties out there, Wall said.
"Size does not mater when it comes to development," he said.
Take for example, the community of Nemzo, Neb., population 12, Wall said.
Nemzo's residents built a community center and heritage museum, which could also be used for gatherings, dances and meetings.
"A building like that would normally last 50 years," Wall said. "All 12 of Nemzo's residents were planning on being around for 50 years. That shows that small communities with a desire to continue can survive."
Another myth Wall tackled is the statement that, "Industrial recruitment is the best strategy for economic development."
"Many industries are going overseas. The focus should be more on developing your existing industries ... Consult with local business and help them to become viable before trying to bring in outside industry," Wall said.
Tucumcari, however, might be an exception, said Patrick Vanderpool, executive director of the Greater Tucumcari Economic Development Corp.
"Tucumcari in unique with its allure to the renewable energy field," Vanderpool said. "Mesalands' wind turbine program is a perfect example of drawing in outside industry."
The Heartland group is conducting a survey called the Community Capacity Questionnaire.
Questions in the survey cover opinions about traditional institutions, aspects of leadership, new residents and accountability in community projects.
The information gathered from the survey will be combined with data collected by Wall during 21 interviews with local residents.
All the data collected will determine where Tucumcari is thus far on economic development, said Kurt Mantonya, senior associate Heartland Center.
As of noon Tuesday, 173 people had taken the survey online, Wall said.
Data from the survey and interviews will be presented at a town hall meeting 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Great Room, at Mesalands Community College.
Carl Kallansrud, director of the Small Business Development Center at Mesalands, said the cost of the survey is $13,000, which will be paid through a $600,000 federal Housing and Urban Development grant.