Extension Educator Ben Dutton
Extension Educator Ben Dutton of McCook led the kick-off session of the Extension’s Entrepreneurial Community Activation Process last week. The next session will be held Tuesday, April 4. (Johnson Publications photo)
Imperial embarks on economic growth assessment
More than 35 people ranging from age 10 to 80 took part in the March 21 kick-off of a community economic growth assessment program.
Extension Educator Ben Dutton of McCook moderated the launch of the Entrepreneurial Community Activation Process (ECAP).
The program is run by the state’s Extension agency with funding from the Rural Futures Institute at the University of Nebraska.
Dutton said the program assists communities assess and build economic growth opportunities by understanding its strengths, unique characteristics and assets.
The goal is to identify future needs and opportunities and develop actionable plans from within the community itself.
Dutton said the program is designed to look at the entreprenuerial characteristics of a community in eight specific areas:
• Does the community have a vision for where it wants to go and a commitment to get there?
• Is the community open to new ideas and opinions and have a willingness to change?
• How digitally connected is a community and is it incorporating broadband in all sectors of the community?
• Is the community creative in fostering entrepreneurial innovation and funding?
• Does the community have a support system for entrepreneurs?
• Does the community have sufficient infrastructure to support new growth?
• Does the community have the leadership to improve economic and social well-being?
• Does the community have a unique identity and sense of history that creates a bond of pride?
Over the next five weeks, community members will help steer that process.
An important element in that process requests that individuals fill out a community assessment form.
This discovery survey includes questions focusing on community characteristics and strengths, retail shopping, health care services and community amenities, housing and demographics.
The results of the survey will be used to engage the community in developing an action plan to meet the perceived needs.
Dutton said the more people that complete the surveys, the better the ability to assess the community’s needs.
Hard-copy surveys in both English and Spanish are available at the Imperial City Office, The Lied Imperial Library and the Imperial Republican.
People can also go online to http://go.unl.edu/imperial or http://go.unl.edu/imperialspanish to complete the anonymous survey.
Surveys should be returned to the city office by Wednesday, April 5.
The next session will be held Tuesday, April 4, at the Imperial city gym beginning at 6 p.m.
The session will focus on the eight characteristics noted above.
Dutton said people can join the discussion at any time and did not need to be at the first meeting to participate in the process.
Subsequent meetings will be held Tuesday, April 11, survey results; Tuesday, April 18, priority setting; and Tuesday, May 2, action plans.