Portage County Prosperity 2040 Launches 7 Innovative Projects
For the City Times
AMHERST — On Tuesday, May 14 over 60 local leaders, activists, young professionals and change agents gathered at the Lettie W. Jensen Center, Amherst to identify and launch projects to support Portage County Prosperity 2040, a county-wide initiative for future economic and community development.
Prosperity 2040 is co-sponsored by the City of Stevens Point, Portage County, the Village of Plover, and the Portage County Business Council, with support from the Portage County Towns Association. The initiative was co-funded by a grant from the Local Government Institute of Wisconsin.
The focus of the third and final workshop on May 14 was “Strategic Doing,” a method developed at Purdue University that helps broad stakeholder groups identify high impact projects to support their long term vision. At the Jensen Center, meeting participants represented a cross-section of small businesses, nonprofits, the social sector, education, agriculture, and government. Each participant selected one strategy (see list below) critical to the County’s future success, as identified through the previous two workshops.
Prosperity 2040 Strategies
- Protect and diversify funding for infrastructure, e.g., roads, alternative transportation options
- Protect and diversify funding for environmental needs, e.g., water, natural resources, recreational opportunities
- Increase opportunities for residents to live healthy lifestyles, including access and affordability of fresh foods, prevention of chronic diseases, and improved mental health
- Attract and retain young people and young families
- Improve the economic ecosystem of family-supporting wage jobs
- Promote and adopt practices that enable our community to live in balance with our natural resources, e.g., agriculture, groundwater, climate change mitigation
- Create an educational system pre-K through 16 that produces a diverse skilled workforce to enhance fiscal growth in the community
By the end of the evening, seven pathfinder projects were launched to begin the “doing”. Projects ranged from a neighborhood vegetable sharing program to promote healthier lifestyles to an electric car-buying cooperative to a community awareness campaign focused on increasing funding for roads and infrastructure.
Sarah Agena, Flexible Nutrition Solutions said, “Last night was an exciting first step to take action on the issues we know will be critical to our region’s success. This is really about doing and community engagement. It is great to see the Business Council, municipalities and all the community involved. I met a lot of new, engaged people through the process.”
The next steps in the process include:
- The seven workgroups have committed to meet again in the next month and are invited to invite other enthusiasts or stakeholders who can help implement their projects. It is not necessary that participants were involved in the previous labs.
- Co-sponsors will meet monthly for the next six months with LGI and the consulting team from NEXT Generation Consulting to roll-up the previous meetings’ outcomes into a community-wide prosperity plan that can be implemented by stakeholders and partners.
Portage County residents who want to get involved can contact Todd Kuckkahn, Executive Director, Portage County Business Council at firstname.lastname@example.org; 715-344-1940. Residents are also invited to weigh-in on priorities for the future by logging onto Polco.us and search for “Portage County Prosperity 2040.” Registration is free and participants can respond to several polls to guide priorities.