Portage County “Prosperity 2040” Launches
For the City Times
STEVENS POINT — On Wednesday, March 27 about 60 local leaders, activists, and change agents gathered at SentryWorld to kick-off “Prosperity 2040”, a county-wide initiative that will use strategic foresight to develop a shared plan for future economic and community development.
The initiative is co-sponsored by the City of Stevens Point, Portage County, the Village of Plover, the Portage County Towns Association and the Portage County Business Council. Half of the cost of the nine-month initiative is underwritten by a “Future Regions” grant from the Local Government Institute of Wisconsin (“LGI”).
At the meeting Gary Becker, LGI’s Executive Director, pointed to the unique nature of having several units of local government and other stakeholders work together on the plan, “One of the goals of the Future Regions grant is to help Portage County build and refine collaboration skills so that the region can have a more prosperous and resilient future.”
Meeting participants included a broad cross-section of industry, nonprofit, agricultural, and government representation. At the start of the meeting, futurist and facilitator Rebecca Ryan asked, “How many of you are sitting at tables with people you don’t know well?” Over three-fourths of people raised their hands. The March 27 workshop centered on two activities: cognitive bias training to help participants understand how their minds are open to some information and closed to other information; and a trends game in which participants discussed and debated Portage County’s “STEEP” trends, trends in society, technology, economy, environment and politics.
Dale Sankey, Peoples State Bank, and one of the participants, said, “I found it very encouraging that a diverse group of leaders from the private and public sectors, and from multiple communities, are meeting collaboratively to plan the future, and move our county forward.”
Portage County Prosperity 2040 will include:
- Futures Lab #2 on April 18 will engage participants in a scenario development process that will help the community pinpoint strategies that will help it maximize its future.
- Futures Lab #3 on May 14 will use Purdue University’s “Strategic Doing” process to help individuals and organizations identify easy, collaborative projects that can reap big rewards in the future.
- Online surveying and polling from Wisconsin-based Polco, to gain input from across the community.
- Six months of coaching to begin implementation of the plans and develop or solidify new working relationships among community partners.
Those who are interested in attending the workshops should contact Todd Kuckkahn at the Portage County Business Council. RSVPs are required due to space limitations. Participation at workshops is limited but online participation will be open to all.