Great Lakes Community Action Partnership Adds the Destination Creation Course to its Rural Business Trainings

Aug 25, 2022 | Article by Gene Stowe, Blog

The Great Lakes Community Action Partnership (GLCAP) of northwest Ohio has added the Destination Creation Course to its organization’s training programs to better assist communities and small businesses across its seven-state region.

Three GLCAP team members attended the Destination Train-the-Trainer 3-day virtual class earlier this year and are now certified facilitators of the Destination Creation Course. Those attending included Program Development Coordinator Deb Martin, Senior Rural Development Specialist Roberta Streiffert, and Community Outreach Specialist Brianna Dennis.

The GLCAP agency offers technical assistance, webinars, and on-on-one in-person and online consulting through Wells Fargo’s Open for Business program, targeted to mostly small, rural businesses. The agency serves the Ohio counties of Wood, Sandusky, Ottawa, and Seneca, along with the seven-state region of Ohio, Wisconsin, Kentucky, West Virginia, Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan.

Martin’s agency is a part of the national Rural Community Assistance Partnership network and is the first organization in the network to offer the Destination Creation Course. The Course is also her organization’s first direct-to-business training program, and it plans to offer four or five Destination Creation classes.  

“We’re constantly trying to innovate and do and try different things,” Martin says. “In most of the smaller communities we work with, the vast majority of their businesses are Main Street type businesses.”

“I think the Destination Creation Course really speaks to that specific audience more so than other programs and tools I’m aware of. I think the class really helps business owners understand what kinds of things they can do specifically that will bring them new customers and what customers they need to focus on.”

“People in rural areas are very practical,” says Martin.“They want to know how this is going to work and what do I need to do. They don’t want a bunch of business theory. They want to know from a practical standpoint what they can do, and this training gives them tools and tactics that are easy to implement.”

The Destination Creation Course was developed by Jon Schallert over the course of thirty years of consulting with over 10,000 independent business owners in different business sectors and locations. The class trains owners to market their businesses in a way that attracts both local and out-of-area customers to irresistible experiences and products in rural communities.

“Our team became facilitators of the Destination Creation Course because it was the perfect opportunity to help our businesses even more than we currently do,” Martin says. “The amount of experience Schallert has in working and consulting with businesses is really helpful. That tells me his methods can work anywhere.”

“The biggest thing for us,” according to Dennis, “is to take all the training’s information and apply it to every business and every single community we work with. The course has applicable things any owner can do, and it doesn’t take a million dollars to do what Jon suggests. I like that his ideas are very practical.”

Streiffert says the course teaches how ordinary businesses in rural communities can become destinations, not just tourist attractions at resorts.

“There is an opportunity for every business to set themselves up as a destination,” she says. “It doesn’t necessarily have to be related to a tourist activity. It can be something that applies to any store, like being the best hardware store in a region. Using these tools, you’re creating a sustainable and successful small business and helping the community as a whole.” 

Martin says the program also brings the benefits of innovation and entrepreneurship to smaller businesses.

“I think when people think about innovation, they think about large-scale businesses,” she says. “The reality is there aren’t that many of those in rural areas. Not every business is going to be that or frankly, even wants to be that.”

“The Destination Creation Course has good, practical advice,” added Martin. “For those business who are looking to figure out how to thrive and continue into the future, this is really good course.”