ROCHELLE – The third of five Revved Up Rochelle meetings took place on Tuesday night and the main focus this week was voting on the goals created during the previous meeting and coming up with strategies to accomplish them.
The meeting began with the group looking over a handout in their binders about Jack Schultz, the CEO of Boomtown Institute of Agracel Incorporated, a firm that specializes in industrial development in small towns. The handout covered the top 10 things he does in every town where he works.
The list included suggestions such as urging younger people to get involved in city council positions and incorporating art into the community. One of the most important things is to help residents enjoy their time in the community, so if at some point they leave the community, they might help promote it to future residents.
“He really talks about how you need to maintain a relationship with your ex-community members, people who grew up here and went to school here. They can let other people know what a wonderful place Rochelle is,” explained program manager Giselle Hamm.
The second part of the meeting involved going over the Big Hairy Audacious Goals — or BHAG’s — the groups had come up with in the previous week’s meeting. In the time between the previous week’s meeting, Community and economic development specialist Linda Lee condensed the many goals into more specific ones.
“You guys came up with about 50 ideas, and I went back and tweaked and consolidated them and I came up with 13 goals,” said Lee.
While she was reading them off, attendees were able to ask questions and give their opinions on the newly worded goals.
These goals were split up into different categories such as business development, retail and dining, and housing, each with approximately a paragraph explaining what each one pertains to within the community.
While the goals had already been condensed and re-written once, a few of them built off one another.
“To me, the housing is important but we don’t really have the housing without the business development,” added mayor John Bearrows.
Hamm said that some of the goals will do a bit of overlapping but that is expected.
All of the goals were written on large sheets of paper and posted on the wall. Once each of the goals were identified, individuals had stickers numbered one through five that they would stick onto the goals that they thought were the most important — five being the most important and one being the least.
After the voting was completed, the numbers were added up and the top six goals with the most points became the ones that the groups would focus on for the rest of this program.
Those top six goals include: Business development, retail and dining, arts and culture, youth, housing, and festivals and events.
“I think it is also important to add retention to the business development, so that it says business development and retention,” added Bearrows.
Now that the goals have been established, residents were charged with developing strategies of how to accomplish them in the community. The tables of attendees were combined so that there was a matching number of tables and goals. Each table would come up with specific strategies using verbs to explain how they will be accomplished.
After brainstorming a goal for a few minutes, leaders of the meeting rotated the goals to a different group until everyone had a chance to brainstorm each of the goals.
Some of the strategies that one group came up with for business development was to encourage stores to have extended hours or stay open on Sunday.
Another strategy that was brought up several times was the need to instill a sense of pride in the community, which will in turn lead to more people shopping local.
“The old saying, you build it and they will come, is not the way with retail and dining. It has to start with pride in shopping or pride in supporting the community,” explained Rochelle Ace Hardware owner Chris Amir.
One of the strategies developed to help instill pride in the residents would be offering a Rochelle Rewards program for shopping local.
Once every group had a chance to create strategies for each of the goals, Hamm and Lee assigned everyone homework before playing a short closing video for the audience. Everyone was assigned an appreciative inquiry sheet to fill out before the meeting next week.
The sheet asks participants to describe a time they were involved in a project that was successful, determine what factors made it successful and describe what they most value about themselves.
The next Revved Up meeting will be held in Hicks Hall at the Rochelle United Methodist Church on Tuesday, Oct. 1 from 6 to 9 p.m.