Published On: Wed, Feb 1st, 2017

Knox Co. residents look for ways to attract more people

WAUSA — Plans are moving forward to kick off Marketing Hometown America (MHA) in Wausa February through early April.  Brought to you by the Knox County Development Agency and Nebraska Extension, Marketing Hometown America is a proven process for bringing everyone who lives in and around Wausa together to create an action plan for attracting and retaining new residents.

In mid-February eight or more community volunteers will be trained to facilitate a series of four meetings or study circles planned for March. The study circles are really guided conversations in which residents, young and old, come together to learn more about why people like Wausa; how it stacks up in comparison to other communities; what people want it to look like in the future and to identify its marketable points. During the last study circle, each group will take into consideration everything they’ve discussed and come up with their very own customized action plan for marketing Wausa.

Towards the end of February before the study circles convene, a community kickoff will be held. Anyone who desires to participate in the study circles should attend and get signed up with the group that works best with their schedule.

Another purpose for the community kickoff is to lay some ground rules for the study circle discussions so that folks can get to a deeper understanding of the community connections, shared values and opportunities for the future. According to Nebraska Extension Educator, Carroll Welte, “the conversation in the study groups is guided so that all voices are heard and every idea is expressed.”

After the last study circle all of the action plans will be looked at by the MHA steering committee to identify common and important themes. The next step includes bringing everyone in the community back together one last time probably mid to late April, to build one action plan for marketing the community.

Of course the final step is to implement the action plan and to usher in a new era of community growth for Wausa. Cheryl Burkhart-Kriesel, an extension community development specialist says that “by the time the MHA process finishes there’s generally plenty of buy in and expanded leadership for moving the action plan forward.” Communities in North and South Dakota and Nebraska that have completed Marketing Hometown America have seen increased adult and youth engagement, networking plus increased community spirit and pride.

For more information about Marketing Hometown America, contact a member of the Wausa MHA steering group: Heather Carlson, Carolyn Hall, Mike Burns, Dawn Friedrich, Dan Wamberg and Doug Johnson, you may also contact: Megan Hanefeldt, 402-288-5619 or Carroll Welte, 402-374-2954.