Survey is Starting Block for Community Revitalization Plan
Thursday, December 11, 2014
When the Grant County Development Corporation (GCDC) invited former Milbank resident Hugh Weber to be the featured speaker for the most recent annual meeting, none of the board members had an inkling where it would lead.
Weber, founder, curator and host of the OTA, as well as current Director of Continuing Education at Augustana College in Sioux Falls, has offered his knowledge and experience to assist the Milbank community in defining a new revitalization plan.
Weber plans to spend the second Monday and Tuesday of each month in Milbank working with the city officials, Milbank Area Chamber of Commerce, GCDC and other groups to help strengthen his hometown. He met with several groups in the past two days, and spoke before the Milbank City Council Monday evening to introduce himself and explain some potential steps.
“This is an incredible opportunity for me to give back to the community I grew up in,” Weber said. “I always say the only thing I feel this community didn’t give me was a pathway back home, and I want to help make a place here for young adults who want to live in a town like Milbank.”
Weber has been employed in the political arena and is trained in network, design solutions, information analysis and marketing.
Bobbie Bohlen, GCDC executive director, said that the first step is to collect information through a survey. “We need to do a better job of telling the story of Grant County, and we are using the ‘You’ll like Milbank’ survey to get a better feeling of where the community is right now. Then we can form groups and try to have an impact through 2015.”
The survey is available on the internet and is printed elsewhere in this issue of the Grant County Review. “We had hoped for 500 respondents over a series of weeks, and have already had 300 in a couple of days,” Weber noted. It is important to receive responses from all ages and demographics.
Some of the areas that will be focused on include Milbank’s Main Street, work force and others as they are identified. “Hugh’s strengths will help us find out if we are on the right track,” said Jason Kettwig, city administrator.
He noted that there has been discussion about how to improve and strengthen Main Street. “But, we need to find out if people who live here really feel that Main Street is the heart of the town, or if the heart can shift to a different area. This project will help with questions like those.”
The project will take months, or even years, to implement, but the idea is that there will be tangible progress along the way to strengthening the community.
“Hugh and his network of experts will help us come up with some ideas for the big picture, and then when it comes down to the nuts and bolts of putting it together, we will rely on our local people,” Kettwig commented. “It will be a great partnership.”