Community program to be launched
CREATE, NCWRPC work to develop opportunity map
For the City Times
In partnership with the North Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, CREATE Portage County was awarded funding through Scaling Pandemic Resilience Through Innovation and Technology (SPRINT) Challenge to launch CREATE Your Community.
Funding is part of the CARES Act with the US Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration.
“This award will bring CREATE’s proven creative ecosystem building model to communities across all 10 counties of North Central Wisconsin,” a CREATE release stated.
“The Sprint Challenge Grant was designed to support and expand programs that address the economic, health, and safety risks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic through regional innovation.
“CREATE drew attention for its successful printing of more than 4,000 face shields, its launch of a new start-up accelerator already supporting 30 business ideas, and its IDEA Center, which provides a rural model for community creativity and innovation hubs.”
To satisfy the terms of the grant, CREATE and the NCWRPC will work with county, economic development, and arts leaders to develop an opportunity map that identifies at least three key projects per county that will strengthen the local creative ecosystem; work with communities to open five satellite locations for its IDEA Center; expand its established business accelerator program, Surge; and replicate technology used to produce high-need PPE during the onset of the pandemic so that IDEA Center satellites can assist in production should the need arise.
CREATE is actively seeking applications from municipal leaders, arts & economic development organizations, and grassroots groups that are interested in leading this work in their communities. The application is available at createyourcommunity.org/eda, and the first round will close on May 15.
Over the course of the grant, CREATE will select one applicant from each of the 10 counties supported by the North Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission. These pilot communities will receive fully-funded opportunity mapping and strategic ownership services designed to identify and develop high-impact projects that strengthen creative ecosystems and local economies. CREATE will continue to work with these communities to coach them through the successful implementation of these three projects.
“As part of that mapping process, CREATE will identify five locations for regional innovation hubs to spread its IDEA Center concept across the region. These satellite locations will share a key fob system, enabling entrepreneurs, makers, and co-workers to move seamlessly across the region accessing workspaces and technology that support the new economy,” the release added.
“This effort will strengthen connection points between these emerging creative ecosystems to build a regional network of ecosystems that are mutually supportive.
“Clusters of communities and communities of all sizes are encouraged to apply.
“CREATE itself started as a grassroots effort that grew into itself over time. The organization is excited to work with motivated people and groups, regardless of how established or organized they feel at the time of their application.
“Through this grant, CREATE will provide organizational support and technical assistance to selected applicants who need it.”
The North Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (NCWRPC) is a voluntary association of governments with the purpose of providing assistance to communities in the areas of economic development, land use and transportation planning.
The organization serves Adams, Forest, Juneau, Langlade, Lincoln, Marathon, Oneida, Portage, Vilas, and Wood counties. For more information, visit ncwrpc.org.
To learn about CREATE Your Community and access the application for this program, visit createyourcommunity.org.