The Community Development Academy is a series of workshops that will provide community leaders the assessment and strategic planning information necessary to devise participatory community development plans and strategies. Participants will gain the information, resources and new ideas for planning to create quality sustainable communities. There are scholarships available for registration from multiple groups, which include: Hansen Foundation Scholarship (through Huck Boyd Institute), wKREDA , Rural Telephone, Golden Belt Telephone and Blackhills Energy. It is strongly encouraged to have at least four (4) individuals to make up a community team. A county, town, or region can form a team. This academy will be starting on September 22 for the Community Team Leaders. The official schedule, scholarship information links, and dates can all be found on the K-State Community Development Academy website.
The first academy workshop will be held in the middle of Western Kansas, at FHSU in Hays, Kansas. This is close to home for Phillips County community residents, so don’t miss out on this opportunity. A group has already been forming for Phillipsburg and one representing Phillips County, but any other town in the county would sure benefit from taking this information acquired back to their own town and making exciting development projects happen.
If you have any questions, please contact PCED staff at 543-5809. The deadline for the Academy is coming up soon, so if you are even slightly interested, please consider leading a team from your community.
Jeff Hofaker -
Speaking as a current business owner and an economic development director, owning and running your own business is still one of the most independent activities an American can do in this country. On the eve of July 4, 2009, it should be remembered that most of the founders of our country were business owners. In every circumstance I have known, business owners are very independent and passionate about their actions to succeed. That is not to say that entrepreneurs can’t stumble and fall, from time to time; but, they most certainly never give up. In times of trials and failure, it is usually the entrepreneur (business owner) that will make the extra effort toward attaining their goal through using another tactic. If the business fails, they learn from their mistake and grow another business by becoming stronger the learning experience. Think about the number of failures that Edison went through on “one” project, “the light bulb” before success in his business. Think about the number of challenges and heartache Abraham Lincoln went through before he became the President of the United States.
America has always been a country of leaders with an entrepreneurial spirit. With the challenges facing our country right now, it is important for business owners to stand firm. It is important for these current owners to share the experience of freedom they have (although difficult) with their prodogies (the younger generation). Working in a smaller rural community, I have been encouraged by our small town business owner’s leadership for our communities, their passionate leadership to create a better environment for the next generation, and their desire to share and help the next wave of business owners. Most rural communities have lost a vital asset over the last 50 years, many of their youth. These graduating youth have wanted to become free and explore the world outside the rural (small town) environment. Many of our youth, (even myself), throughout our childhood were inspired by business owners (mentors) in our area; though, encouraged by others to get an education and leave to get a better paying job (career), which all seemed to be in larger (urban areas) at that time.
Everyone has to choose their own way and experience different areas, BUT, I feel very strongly that as citizens, educators, business leaders, and parents; we need to share the positives about living and working in small town America, about owning or developing their own business, and about becoming strong servants to our community. Even when I graduated and worked in a larger city for five (5) years, I only then started to grasp the positives that I gave up by working and living in a large town and leaving my Hometown area. One primary reason I came back to live and work in Phillips County was the friendliness of our people; but another was that ability to start a new business at a minimum cost. With that being said, the cost of living was more economical, as I grew the business as well. Yes, I know, many may say — “Well, he just could not make it in the large town atmosphere” or “He just needed to stay longer to experience the true urban setting”. I did have several people say “I had failed, because I had moved back to the area.”. And it may suprise you to know that individuals saying this were not just those I thought I knew in the large town, but those in my HOMETOWN!
Gratefully, there were many more within Phillips County that saw, what I may have not at the time, an entrepreneurial spirit, in myself. To them I say “Thank you!”, and you know who you are! Business owners, residents, teachers and parents, all us have had our own mentors that have inspired us to become leaders for our community. At this time in our country when entrepreneurism and foundational truths are mocked, we all need to realize that our youth is looking for someone to be their mentor. If they know and understand that running a business is challenging, but very gratifying; they will consider pursuing that path. If they are encouraged and supported in their defeats, that is ok to lose a battle, from time to time, but you must always focus on winning the war (long term goal). Encourage someone that may be considering a move back into the area and given them an inspirational boost of support. Especially now, I am sure they probably need it. I will leave with two thoughts. May everyone enjoy their celebration of our independence as a nation on July 4 AND, may all our new citizens moving back to the area have strong mentorship (through you) to become business owners, community supporters and servant leaders.
It seems in these indecisive times, many people strongly encourage you to be politically correct in comments and actions, even to the point of “NOT” making a stand. No one can be wrong, everyone is right in some way. Being apathetic, not being a leader, not speaking up against wrongs, and just following the groove (path) that everyone else is in .. That’s fine.!?
This is completely opposite of what we need to do. Yes, we need to be polite, but people need to know where you stand. I remember a quote my teacher, Mr. Hamel, told me when I was in 5th grade class. “You must make a STAND on everything, or you will FALL for anything!”, he stated. I don’t remember the exact surrounding or reasoning for him bring this up, but it is even more prudent now, than it was then. A statement I use many times with clients is: “You want me to be compassionately honest, don’t you?”, In every case, they say “yes”, but sometimes are unprepared for an answer they don’t want to hear. The truth, is something that ultimately helps a person, organization, or group!
What does this have to do with economic or community development!” In short…It has to do with everything! It revolves around Leadership. Leadership is not how active you look when you speak… it is how you speak through your dedicated actions. Community development is born through perseverance to make things better, a driving passion to help people and your area, and the enduring power to withstand the storms of strife, which do occur, when making a stand.
Phillips County has had some great leaders in the past, which made a stand for community and economic development. Were all the ideas “perfect” …”No”. Is Phillips County better for the “stand” made at that time by those leaders? Some may ponder on this and never make a decision…”why”… Because they are wondering what the politically correct answer should be. Phillips county IS better off for most of the decisions made in the past by our forefathers, and if mistakes were made, it is up to us to rectify them.
The Discover Phillips County initiative, is in many ways making a stand. Leaders – citizens – groups, all saying “we can make a difference!”. They are making a stand in one area or another to better their community. Strangely enough, once you catch the “leadership bug”, it is contagious. When you make a stand for what is ..Good..Right… you are mentoring to someone in some way through your actions! Our youth learn this way, too. If a community is focused on the positive amid challenging times, our youth learn endurance and leadership.
These are just a few simple words for the general thought is much bigger, but I feel you get the larger picture. As local , active, leadership grows — so does your community and the development possibilities within!