Big turnout brings big ideas for Rush City

Dr. Nicole Sly, of Perreault Chiropractic and member of the Rush City EDA, shares a list of ideas that folks came up with in small groups. Photos by Jon Tatting

Dr. Nicole Sly, of Perreault Chiropractic and member of the Rush City EDA, shares a list of ideas that folks came up with in small groups. Photos by Jon Tatting

Residents pack the house in generating goals, project ideas for task force groups to work on throughout year and beyond —

A good cross-section of the Rush City community filled The Spare Room at Chucker’s Bowl and Lounge on Feb. 27 to create a vision for the future.

The Initiative Foundation, based in Little Falls, Minn., is working with Rush City in the Thriving Communities Initiative, a program that helps communities identify their unique assets, goals and challenges. Leadership teams guide their communities in forming a locally shared vision and plan of action through the use of awarded grant money.

Facilitating the meeting last week was Initiative Foundation member Dan Frank, who first explained the program to city economic development leaders and city staff during an informational meeting last year. The city then formed a core team of 26 members from the Rush City area that has since been involved.

New and existing leaders in the community enjoyed meeting with fellow residents in mapping out the future for Rush City.

New and existing leaders in the community enjoyed meeting with fellow residents in mapping out the future for Rush City.

“The goal was to get a diverse group of people interested in coming together and doing something for the community,” said Jamie Scheffer, planning and economic development assistant for the city.

More than 150 people gathered for this communitywide event where they enjoyed a free meal, identified strengths and opportunities of the community and generated various project ideas on a rotation basis in small groups. They were asked, “Do you have goal or project ideas related to this area that we are missing?” and “Which goal or project in this area seems most promising to you?”

In addition, the original core team presented draft goals and projects for the participating residents to review and build on. For example, mini golf and disc golf, trails and park development including a skateboard park were just some of the ideas under quality of life.

Dan Frank, a member of the Initiative Foundation, leads the group in The Spare Room at Chucker’s Bowl and Lounge.

Dan Frank, a member of the Initiative Foundation, leads the group in The Spare Room at Chucker’s Bowl and Lounge.

Internships, tutoring and mentoring partnerships with local businesses was another thought in the children, youth and future workforce category. In economics, people discussed creative ways in promoting downtown and Highway 61, using or renovating existing land and buildings, and supporting natural resource-based businesses for services such as bike or canoe rental.

“We want to do something for the town while keeping that small town feel,” a participant told another at one of the small group tables.

Once an attainable project is decided on, the foundation will award a $20,000 grant, which the team would need to match with $10,000. After a year of continued work, the community can receive another $10,000 grant with another $10,000 match.

Nancy Hoffman, director of the county’s Economic Development Authority and liaison on the Rush City EDA, shares a list of project ideas generated by those who participated in the communitywide meeting Feb. 27.

Nancy Hoffman, director of the county’s Economic Development Authority and liaison on the Rush City EDA, shares a list of project ideas generated by those who participated in the communitywide meeting Feb. 27.

At the meeting, participants were asked to volunteer on task force groups that will meet once a month to work on projects and action plans.

The hope is that this visioning process, along with community follow-through, continues for years to come.

For more information, contact Scheffer at 320-358-4743 or scja0805@stcloudstate.edu.

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