Two Communities Take the First Steps towards Regional Vitality

“Most people treat rural America economic development and prosperity like they are a hospice patient, you know, make them comfortable until they die.” 

Not in Northwest Missouri, where current leaders of the economic trade area around Brookfield and Marceline have a better idea.  This area is the boyhood home of both Walt Disney of Marceline and General John J. Pershing of nearby Laclede (Commander in Europe of WW1) and they are going to use imagination and discipline to craft a better future for themselves.

On August 5, 2016 leaders met to consider using the concept of Regional Vitality; growing rooted wealth and prosperity through entrepreneurship; as well as the Communities of Excellence Framework; adapted from the proven management model of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program and designed for communities; to address the challenges facing their region.

Many of the local leaders were in attendance and were both willing and excited to move forward as a team.  After review of the material and vigorous discussion, the local business and community leaders agreed to a three month design process of the Community Profile and Data/Knowledge Management (Category 4).  They will use a system leadership model supported by this sound decision support process as their first major step towards Regional Vitality. 

Max Summers, Chair of the Regional Vitality Committee at the Community Foundation of Northwest Missouri (CFNWMO) explains, “The first step is to build a baseline of data to understand the trade region and to identify best opportunities to grow traded activity from within the community.”  To support this a local team has been identified including Pat Curry, Project Manager at ExCEED, (Extension Community Economic and Entrepreneurial Development) part of the University of Missouri Extension, and Steve Wenger also from the CFNWMO.  The goal of this first step is to ensure that the data really addresses the needs of the local Brookfield/Marceline trade area. 

The long-term goal is to develop a regional data system that supports fact based decisions and strategic thinking of the "system leadership platforms" at both the local and regional level and support communities within a trade region to work together through fact based decisions that are aligned and focused on what that that trade region has identified as the best opportunities.

Also in attendance at the meeting was Terry Maglich, Business Development Manager for the Department of Economic Development with the State of Missouri who stated, “The COE collaborative effort in terms of regional leadership…is something important for the rural areas of our state to take part in.  I honestly felt that this could be a template to solve some of the rural problems that we all are encountering.  Lots of things have been looked at, but this is first that appears to be sustainable.  It’s not going to happen overnight, but this is the right way to go about creating opportunity for our rural communities.”

We couldn’t agree more and look forward to updating you all on their progress in Northwest Missouri.

By Steve Wenger and Stephanie Norling

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