As we focus on working with government this month, our guest blogger Jeff Plasterer, gives the following advice on practicing collaboration.
Whether it is working together in small groups; between groups in a community; between communities, or on a regional scale, collaboration takes hard work.
It takes a commitment to developing win/win opportunities. It also takes an understanding that what is good for one is generally good for all.
Forward Wayne County has recently been practicing this approach to community development. I say practicing because it is a work in progress.
For example, the Wayne County Broadband Taskforce is currently conducting a survey on the availability, speed, and affordability of broadband in Wayne County.
The work is a collaboration between Wayne County Government, the EDC, Chamber of Commerce, Forward Wayne County, and Wayne County Tourism.
However, to make this initiative successful, we are also working with public and private school systems, public libraries, and employers. We are also working with local media outlets to get the word out about how to access the survey.
We’ll know how successful we were in encouraging survey participation in a few weeks. If the survey is successful, we’ll have plenty of opportunities to practice collaboration. We’ll use the survey results to develop a plan for improving access to broadband in Wayne County.
A similar set of players plus city and town governments have been working together to complete an application for a grant from the state to financially support our small businesses who have been hit hard by the pandemic.
The grant will assist businesses all over the county rather than providing help that is limited to a particular city or town. We are hopeful for its success.
This approach also frees some local governments to apply for funding in other areas of particular need in their individual communities.
Wayne County and the Economic Development Corporation are working on a Housing Market Survey that will assist in planning for housing development for the next several years. Communities throughout Wayne County have been invited to participate in the study.
The benefits didn’t stop there. Once the EDC and Wayne County made the decision to conduct the study, it was possible to offer participation to the other five counties of the Eastern Indiana Regional Planning Commission.
It significantly reduced the cost for everyone while providing individual information for each county. The Regional Planning Commission is also participating in defraying the cost of the study.
These are just a few of the collaboration efforts currently underway in Wayne County. While collaboration takes time, dedication, and practice, it can yield tremendous results. Those results are just around the corner. And the bonus is that, with practice, collaboration becomes easier. Let’s keep practicing.
Jeff Plasterer is a current Wayne County Commissioner and has vast experience in government work.