ROCHELLE – The second to last Revved Up Rochelle meeting was held Tuesday night and the focus this week was ranking strategies by importance and creating teams to begin working to achieve these community goals.
When attendees arrived at the meeting instead of being assigned a specific table as usual, they chose from six tables to sit at, each labeled with one of the community goals. Residents were told to sit at a table with the specific goal they would like to work on for the next few weeks.
Leaders handed out seven secrets to coping with change in small towns, which was compiled by Milan Wall and Vickie Luther from the Heartland Center for Leadership Development.
Some of the items on the list included having a bias for action, only focusing on the aspects that are controllable such as keeping a good attitude.
“The research demonstrates that leadership is more important than location and community attitude is more important that community size,” said Gisele Hamm, program manager.
Mapping program leaders have seen first-hand just how important attitude can be in creating a successful transformation.
Residents voted on which strategies for achieving each of the six goals were most important to the community, and each person was given a clicker that was connected to the leader’s computer on the screen.
The strategies were projected on the screen and attendees ranked each of them from least to most important. This was done for each of the goals to get a feel as to which strategies the community thought were most crucial to complete.
These strategies included building a youth center, developing events/entertainment that promote retail and dining businesses and creating a business and retention program.
One strategy that ranked low, but may be one of the most crucial for the success of this program was to develop a volunteer recruitment and management program.
“None of this is going to happen unless we have a dedicated group of volunteers, so that 4.9 rating should be a 7.0. you can’t count on the city employees to do all of this, we need a dedicated group of volunteers,” explained Jeff Fiegenschuh, city manager.
Following the voting, action teams worked on completing their goals. Each person had the choice to sign up for as many or as few goals as they desire and the teams began brainstorming ways to achieve the goals, assign positions to team members and determine where and when they would be meeting to begin working.
During this time, groups were asked to come up with a quick “win” (something that could be achieved in a month or less) and a short-term goal (something that could be achieved in a year or less). One quick win the retail and dining group came up with was creating a map of all of the unoccupied business spaces in town including 3-D images, so that future businesses could view the location online before making a personal visit.
For its short-term goal, the retail and dining group thought that it was important for businesses to extend their hours to be open during prime shopping times such as evenings and Sundays.
“We are starting to hear some of that feedback as people are coming from out of town, it is that Saturday afternoon and Sundays when they come in and say, nothing else is open, what do we do,” explained Doris Kennay, co-owner of Kennay Farms Distillery.
Representatives from organizations such as IDOT or the USDA will be attending the final Revved Up Rochelle meeting next week to help the teams plan for their goals. So, the leaders are asking the teams to have some ideas written down and so they have something ready to show the representatives next week.
“Please have some ideas flushed out, so we don’t hear crickets when the resource people are here next week and they ask what are you working on, because we are here to help,” added Hamm.
The final meeting will be held next Tuesday in Hicks Hall from 6 to 9 p.m., located at 709 4th Avenue, Rochelle.