Midwest Placemaking
Innovation Accelerator


In October 2020 the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development (RD) launched the Rural Placemaking Innovation Challenge (RPIC) to provide technical assistance and planning support to foster placemaking and spur economic development in rural communities. USDA RD selected five technical assistance providers from across the country to assist identified communities with preserving cultural and historic structures, enhancing capacity for broadband access, and supporting the development of transportation, housing, and recreational spaces, among other things.

In collaboration with USDA RD, Atlas Community Studios and McClure partnered to launch the Midwest Placemaking Innovation Accelerator to develop placemaking action plans and provide implementation technical assistance to three rural communities, including: Allen County, Kansas, Atchison, Kansas, and Sheffield, Iowa.

strategic process

The project team is implemented the strategic process in four phases between January 2021 – September 2022.

Host visioning sessions for the steering committee and public, facilitate focus groups and one-on-one interviews with key stakeholders, and solicit feedback via online survey(s).

Compile and analyze quantitative and qualitative data, determine emerging themes, identify potential project concepts, and assess the viability of priority projects/initiatives.

Define priority projects/initiatives, identify key partners, determine programming, estimate capital and short-term operating costs, and curate a list of public and private funding sources to consider for implementation.

Prioritize projects/initiatives, identify fundraising coordinator(s), build crosssector partnerships, identify implementation committee members, determine viable funding opportunities to implement priority projects/initiatives, and establish a timeline to execute.

The overall goals of the placemaking process are:

  • Economic and social development
  • Increased population and tourism
  • Improvement to the quality of life standards

The placemaking action plan for each community focuses on three key priorities and includes all information gathered, the entire action plan with the next steps for implementation, and appendices with additional resources for each priority area.

the plans

Click the links below to check out the placemaking action plans for Allen County, Atchison and Sheffield.

Allen County, Kansas

A placemaking action plan developed in partnership with Thrive Allen County.

Atchison, Kansas

A placemaking action plan developed in partnership with the City of Atchison, KS.

Sheffield, Iowa

A placemaking action plan developed in partnership with the Sheffield Betterment Foundation.