Flexibility in Polk County
22 February 2019
One recent day, while pouting about not having my regular morning coffee, it hit me that being ‘adaptable’ is necessary for survival. Granted, some of you may not feel a daily caffeine fix equates to survival, but for those of us who dream of waking up to Julia’s Java, the Wren, Three Arrows, or other coffee houses, it is real! Drinking coffee in the morning is like breathing!
It pains me to say that I am a creature of habit. As a former supervisor, teacher, and mentor I must have preached a thousand times about how change is good, and even necessary, in business and in life. You never know what the future holds. Thus, being adaptable helps one survive and enjoy life. Just ask the dinosaurs.
And what about businesses? They need to adapt, as well. In Polk County, businesses battle changing conditions that require constant evaluation and adjustment to plans. These conditions or influences include cold weather and snow, the influx of tourists in the summer, changing ordinances and tax laws, and changing economic trends. All of these factors, plus many more, keep businesses on their toes.
Fortunately, one only needs to look at our local businesses over time to see how they successfully adapt. Restaurants change their menus and prices depending on the season or the change in customer bases. Landscapers change their services offered from summer to winter. Rather than relying exclusively on seeding and mowing lawns, building retaining walls, and planting shrubs in the summer, many change-over to snowplowing and lakeshore rip-rap in the winter. Local merchants often change their product lines depending on what their customers are seeking at the time, e.g. flip flops vs snow shoes.
Manufacturing, the most prominent industry in our county, also demonstrates incredible flexibility. Our industrial businesses are adapting their recruiting and hiring policies to compete in the ever-tightening workforce market. Flexible schedules for workers who have children or for older employees not wanting to work full-time is a relatively new phenomenon. Increasing the flexibility in benefits to workers is another change. And, of course, has anyone else noticed how businesses, governmental offices, and schools are granting more ‘snow days’ than ever before?! All such policies are the result of changes in our culture, economy, and environment.
Most scholars who study human behavior tell us that people generally go in the direction of things that are familiar and comfortable. We seek consistency and like the way it feels when things are predictable. Fortunately, there is something in all of us that causes us to venture outside of our comfort zone on occasion. This willingness to accept the challenges associated with change is present in Polk County. It is what keeps us strong.
The Polk County Economic Development Corporation is a public-private organization that was created to encourage and promote economic development and capital investment, create and retain quality jobs, enhance the tax base and facilitate positive sustainable growth throughout Polk County, Wisconsin.
Polk County Economic Development Corporation
100 Polk Plaza
Balsam Lake, WI 54810