ECAP sessions identify action areas for community

    Participants in the Entrepreneurial Community Activation Process (ECAP) identified seven key areas the Imperial community needs to address.
    Of those seven, participants selected three to develop action plans over the next 12-24 months to address those needs.
    Those three needs included developing a community vision, improving the broadband service available in Imperial and expanding day care options in Imperial.
    Other needs that made the list include developing leaders in the community, addressing the availability and affordability of housing, encouraging entrepreneurial efforts through business coaching  and addressing medical needs such as doctor recruitment and facilities.
    These needs were pinpointed based on the results of a community discovery survey completed by local residents.
    The survey included questions focusing on community characteristics and strengths, retail shopping, health care services and community amenities, housing and demographics.
    Ben Dutton, UNL Extension Educator from McCook, moderated the five week process.
Action plans
    Developing a community vision involves more than creating a vision and mission statement that just gathers dust after its approval, Dutton said.
    School Superintendent Joey Lefdal suggested that developing community branding based on the core values of the community would be an important step in building a vision everyone could buy into.
    One of the encouraging results from the survey shows that 68 percent of respondents feel that Imperial has a strong identity already. Only 6 percent of the respondents felt there was little or no community identity.
    Lefdal and Dutton cited efforts by Beatrice and Broken Bow to adopt community-wide branding that all businesses could incorporate and residents take pride in.
    Beatrice built their new branding around the fact that Daniel Freeman staked the first claim of the Homestead Act near Beatrice.
    The theme of the branding is “Stake Your Claim,” with a flag in the school color  of orange with the letter B on it planted on the logo.
    Broken Bow’s Chamber adopted a theme of “Rooted. But not Standing Still.” The logo includes an arrowhead, playing off the reference of “broken bow.”
    Dutton suggested a committee representing the chamber, school, residents, community leaders and individuals from local organizations be involved in the process.
    Lefdal agreed to head up the process over the next year and recruit people for their input.

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