"Small Nation" - Startup is bringing life to small, dying downtowns

Absolutely love this idea. https://smallnationstrong.com/

I plan to dive deeper into this soon, but on a quick look, these folks are onto something. Might fit also with aligned businesses, etc.

Personally, I go back and forth. A big chunk of land apart from it all is pretty attractive. But community matters. Reviving small towns in red states, especially now before the trend catches on, can be a great opportunity, and keeps people more connected on a human level than can be done virtually (as necessary as the virtual is).


This is interesting subject. It is challenge to get financing because there are no young people and no energy in these places. It sounds great to build a cool public space but if no one will show up than you are bankrupt. Work from home changes this however. The key in my opinion is to strategically pick these small towns with good bones within a larger metropolitan statistical area. It really needs to be within an hour drive to a major city/international airport for a true success.

One problem I’m fascinated about them bypassing (as their website definitely suggests) is having the population to support these new businesses. It’s like a chicken or the egg problem as while the expansion of opportunities attract people to the area, how much expansion can you have without more people? Perhaps they’re capitalizing on the flight from cities still going on? I’ve seen first hand in my locality how simply building the housing is enough for people to flood the area and revive its downtown.

lwldoh also has a good point about the limited financing for these new projects. Though I’d also like to hope that the barrier of entry (the initial investment required for a business to be competitive) is low enough in small town America.

Thanks for the replies. The company does claim to help clients attract funding, and they’ve at least done some of this with their own projects. Looks like they’ve seen great local success, but as with all startups that transition to scaling phase, there may be a bit of overpromising. I don’t know, I just love the concept, and their success thus far is worth studying.

Built and promoted with energy and intelligence, good ideas find money. What I like about this is that the element of love - to start small, build up a place where you have roots, not trying to be billionaires but just making something worthwhile - is so countercultural to where we’ve been for the last few decades. But it’s definitely catching on.

Chickens and eggs - exactly. There are no doubt thousands of towns that, if a crew with a million bucks showed up and built a brewery, art gallery, and fancy coffee shop - the “for sale” sign would be up in a year. But the interesting question to me is, where this is working (and there are now several examples), why? And how? The flight from big cities and blue states is certainly a part.

I’ve posted links in previous threads, but In Mt. Vernon, Ohio, it was a philanthropist willing to finance certain anchor projects, which created momentum. CEO a quiet philanthropist for Mount Vernon - News - The Columbus Dispatch - Columbus, OH. In this tiny town in Mississippi, it was a young tech exile who just decided to roll up his sleeves and start renovating great old buildings on a decrepit old main street. Forsaken Main Street as affordable new Frontier: Water Valley - YouTube

There are as many ways to go about it as there are towns, but for the NF crew here, I think it makes a lot of sense to start thinking about this as a model for building community at relatively low cost in saner states. If I was an investor, I’d find this a very interesting area to look into. My sense is that it’s entering into a fad stage, but if it lasts (basically, by eschewing the fad aspect), it could be a great thing for the country.