There is no shortage of articles on the urban-rural divide in America today. Rural areas have lower wages and wage growth than urban areas. Rural areas also have higher poverty rates on average. On the flip side, most would be surprised to know that rates of entrepreneurship are higher in rural (nonmetro) areas than urban (metro) areas.
However, very small businesses don’t always offer a stable and well-rounded employment experience like manufacturing or agricultural jobs of the past did. That is why we see a unique opportunity for Bellwether to become a new-age rural employer that can bring together the amazing people and talents that exist in rural communities. Jobs where people can learn, grow and prosper.
We are 100% rural
One thing about the timber business that isn’t changing: Lots of trees are where lots of people aren’t. And getting to the logging jobsite at 6:00 AM is a lot easier if you don’t live two hours away. Logging isn’t going to be remote or work-from-home any time soon.
Combine these things and you can see why basically 100% of our workforce comes from rural communities, and it will stay that way. In fact, the average hometown population of our employees is less than 5,000 people.
Jobs don’t matter, good jobs matter
The work we do is difficult but rewarding. Timber is massively important to the economy and every American’s lifestyle. You get to work outdoors. And there is no better job to see the results of what you did each day.
Equally if not more important is compensation. Our average employee earns more than the South Carolina median household income and have access to good health and retirement benefits (I use them both). And all this while getting the lower cost of living rural areas offer. And we offer people the opportunity to grow their wages with their abilities and contributions – the best players play and the best players get paid.
Additionally, in some jobs great compensation doesn’t last. Anyone can find a better paying job for a few days or weeks or months out of the year. But what is really important is the stability. We work 12 months out of the year and are building a company for the long haul, which means we are building to grow.
Good jobs are at growing companies
The saying goes “if you’re not growing, you’re dying.” I’ll add to that if you’re standing still, you’re falling behind. And with a world more connected than ever via the internet and social media, there is no place to hide. Great companies of a decade ago that are in the same place they were a decade ago are no longer great. In order for employees wages and opportunities to grow, the company has to grow too. That’s what we plan on doing. Not forcing it, but looking for opportunities. Responsibly, and when it makes sense.
We’re not going anywhere
Bringing people in rural communities along for the ride is vital to our company success. We are and will continue to be forward thinking about how to embrace talent, effort and expertise in these communities and move our people forward in work and life. We’ll always be rural, we’ll always provide good jobs and we’ll always be looking for ways to grow. We’re not going anywhere.