Roving Reporter | "Focus on Rebuilding" by Jeanette Larson

Everyone gets a turn to speak
Between December 11 and December 15, a series of focus groups were held at the Emergency Operations Center in the Public Safety Center. These Economic Development Focus Groups provided input for development of a Community Economic Development Plan. Each group included stakeholders and interested parties from targeted groups, businesses, and organizations. The information collected from these focus groups will be incorporated into economic development planning sessions to be held January 8-12, 2018. The group facilitator for economic development topics, Allison Larkin, was provided by the International Economic Development Council. Sean Garretson of Pegasus Planning and Development facilitated the housing sessions. A wrap-up session will be held on Friday, December 15.

Small group discussions

Focus Group #3 included approximately 25 representatives from the general public, as well as schools, real estate, government offices, churches, youth groups, parks and recreation, and non-profits. Input was sought about local needs and problems, with ideas solicited about what needs to be done to restore and grow our local economy. The main problems identified in this focus group are:

  • reasonably priced housing 
  • getting decisions from insurance and mortgage companies so that homeowners and businesses can move forward
  • daycare solutions so that families can return to the community
  • better and more focused communication within the community
  • finding and surveying the displaced members of the community
  • activities for youth
  • an infusion of new volunteers 
  • help with grant writing

We are an "insulated community," local daycare provider Kimberley Head noted, meaning that "we all live, eat, work, and play in the area." Unlike in other places where disasters have struck, employers don't go home to an area without devastation in the evenings. Most business owners struggle to run their businesses during the day and work on their own family issues at night and on weekends. The focus group members noted that businesses and organizations need help to get money flowing and a new influx of volunteers who are not burned out.

The focus groups were not charged with coming up with solutions as that will be incorporated into the January meetings. Reports from all of the focus groups will be provided at a later time. Photographs are from the third session only.

Signing in for the session

Allison Larkin

Adelaide Marlett (l) and Sandy Jumper (r)

Kimberly Head

Amelia Lopez Saltarelli (l) and Adelaide Marlett (r)

The issues are outlined for next steps

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