UPDATE #4: First Site Visit | July - September 2021
- In July 2021, the Atlas/McClure team visited Allen County for the first time to tour the area, host a public information meeting, facilitate focus groups, and meet with the steering committee.
- The Atlas/McClure team facilitated an open-invitation public information meeting during the visit to solicit additional input from local residents and stakeholders who were unable to participate in the virtual visioning sessions.
- During the visit, the Atlas/McClure team facilitated six focus groups with an emphasis on topics such as housing, economic development, workforce training and education, cultural amenities, entrepreneurship, and revitalization of the Thrive Annex Building.
- After the visit, participants in the economic development focus group also provided feedback via an online survey to identify the region’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
- Overall, more than 60 individuals participated in the focus group meetings.
- The online community survey closed on September 22, 2021 and received 104 total responses.
UPDATE #3: Visioning | April - June 2021
- The Atlas/McClure team facilitated two open-invitation public visioning sessions via Zoom in April and May 2021.
- Approximately 35 people participated in the two public visioning sessions.
- An online community survey was released in July 2021 and is set to close in September 2021.
UPDATE #2: Steering Committee | January - March 2021
- Thrive Allen County assembled a project steering committee comprised of 16 individuals with backgrounds ranging from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.
- The steering committee made a schedule to convene quarterly for meetings to assist with oversight of the placemaking process and to ensure the development of the action plan is community-centered and in alignment with countywide priorities.
- The Atlas/McClure team convened the steering committee for its first official meeting in March 2021 to provide an overview of the RPIC initiative and the scope of work for the placemaking process before facilitating a visioning session to solicit input about the region’s assets, challenges, and opportunities related to housing and economic development.
UPDATE #1: Project Kickoff | October - December 2020
- 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.
- The overall goals of the placemaking process are economic and social development, increased population and tourism, and improvement to quality of life standards.
- Allen County’s placemaking action plan focuses on three key priorities: Housing, Economic Development, and Key Building Revitalization (“Thrive Annex Building”).