Time to planSuperior is on a path for transformation, and it’s time to start planning for the region’s future.
By: Shelley Nelson, Superior Telegram
Superior is on a path for transformation, and it’s time to start planning for the region’s future.
Next week that planning begins with a series of community meetings to allow residents to weigh in on that future.
The sessions run Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
This started as a project of the leadership group, and is sponsored by economic and community development, said Michelle Hostetler, director of the Development Association.
The city is going to participate in the Community Assessment Program.
The program helps communities develop a broad overview of its challenges and opportunities. By gathering input from a wide variety of perspectives, the program provides a comprehensive view of the current community and helps create a vision for the future.
Resource team members, including a mix of local professionals and outside facilitators, will spend three days in Douglas County leading listening sessions with a diverse set of community members. The meetings are open to the public and provide all residents — from children to seniors — a chance to have a say in the community’s future.
“This is done throughout the United States,” Hostetler said. “When I came to the community there was so much growth that was coming to the community with Kestrel and the alliance with Caterpillar and Exodus, and it became really obvious this community is going to be transformed.”
Those development proposals are expected to create 900 or more jobs over the next few years.
Hostetler, who had been through the process before when she lived in Wyoming, said she thought it would be a great way to make the community a part of the plan for the future and incorporate the community in the plan.
“There are so few times a community would be in such a transformation stage — in any community,” Hostetler said. “To make us all a part of it seemed like such a great thing and this is the way to do it.”
Hostetler said economic development isn’t just an endeavor of the professionals who work on it; it’s a community endeavor.
Based on the listening session, resource team members will identify major themes, recommend starting points for economic development and assist in building community consensus around the highest priorities.
“Everyone from kids to seniors will be the best one’s to identify what the challenges will be,” Hostetler said.
She said she is excited to get the program underway. While she said her past experience was busy, long days filled with listening panels, but it was very exciting. While she knew nothing about the community when she went there, it was the community that identified its needs and opportunities.
“Through this process, even the little kids we interviewed … even these younger children came up with really great solutions,” Hostetler said. “It was really fun because you would be in these groups and while there would be ‘there’s nothing to do here,’ the facilitator would make sure everyone has the ability to talk. By the time they got through this 50 minutes of talking, they would be like ‘we can do this … and we could do that.’
She said the community was transformed by the process.
“It really was a catalyst for change,” Hostetler said.
The community of about 10,000 located between Yellowstone and Jackson, Wyo. — two high cost tourist destinations — recreated itself as the affordable alternative and offered bus tours to the big destinations, Hostetler said. But it also solved problems the community faced with basics, getting an ambulance to homes in a mountainous area that were inaccessible or difficult to find, and solving issues with no access to prescription drugs, she said.
And Hostetler said she is hopeful the program can do something similar for Douglas County with input from the people who live here.
At 5 p.m. Thursday, facilitators will present a report on what they heard at Superior Public Library, 1530 Tower Ave.
“We want everyone and anybody to come,” Hostetler said.
For more information, call Hostetler at (715) 392-4749.