Commentary: When bigger is better
There is a prejudice among many producers, business owners, corporate executives and even “regular” people like me—who drive used cars, paint their own houses and occasionally struggle to pay the bills—that government is inherently inefficient and ineffective, while the private sector is all elbow grease, can-do and get ’er done.
That might partly be a political point of view, but it’s often reflective of the belief that we don’t really need the federal government to perform many of the functions with which it is occupied, and thus we don’t need to be paying taxes to support many of those functions.
Big picture, that’s incredibly false and inaccurate. Seriously. As proof, let me offer an example of what I mean
Just this past week, the American Farm Bureau Federation announced what they’re calling the Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge. The project is a partnership with Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business Global Social Enterprise Initiative and the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative’s StartupHoyas.
According to an AFBF news release, this “first-of-its-kind challenge provides an opportunity for individuals to showcase ideas and business innovations being cultivated in rural regions of the United States.”
Applicants have until Sept. 15 to submit their ideas, with a group of semi-finalists to be announced at the National Summit on Rural Entrepreneurship at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business on Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014. Those who make the cut will then pitch their ideas to ideas to a team of judges at AFBF’s 96th Annual Convention Jan. 9 to 1, 2015, in San Diego.
“Through the challenge, we will identify rural entrepreneurs with innovative ideas and help them remove any barriers standing between them and a viable, emerging business,” said Lisa Benson, Ph.D., AFBF’s director of rural development. “Winners will get initial capital, as well as mentoring to take them from innovative concept, to strategy, to reality. Farm Bureau recognizes that great business ideas can germinate anywhere and we’re excited to see what our members will bring to the table.”
At face value, that is a terrific idea, one that is indeed exciting. But here’s the catch: The finalists will be competing for the Rural Entrepreneur of the Year Award and prize money of up to $30,000 to implement their ideas.
Now, 30K isn’t anything to sneer at, but c’mon. What kind of game-changing entrepreneurial business kicks ass on that kind of investment? I mean, it’s nice to land that Rural Entrepreneur of the Year Award, but the cash flow’s still going to be a problem, no matter how big that trophy is.
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