Roundtable Discussions: Forum for economic development of our local communities

Community economic development roundtable discussions are designed to create a level of dialogue necessary to explore the potential for creating manufacturing, industrial and trade jobs that will impact the lives of the unemployed and underemployed in communities.

Community Forums 2015-06-04

Photo credit: recordherald.com

Such a roundtable discussion was recently held in Fayette County, Ohio, the second in the past 12 months, aimed at promoting social and economic equity using state, regional and local resources in the forging of new and sustainable communities. The event brought together local stakeholders with state and regional economic development players to address significant community and economic development challenges; with the goal of cultivating a broader collaboration among business, government and civil society communities.

Topics discussed ranged from gas pipeline projects and how the counties can work together for the benefit of the region, to ways to recruit and attract business to the area. Conversation also focused on job creation and retention strategies, workforce and skills development issues, and state policies that undermine local economic development growth.

As Extension professionals, the roles we play in such community conversations can vary depending on the issues and the stages of the educational process. At times we are “conveners” who identify a public issue(s) and key stakeholders, gain their support and cooperation in the educational process, and work with them to design and carry out a process to achieve a mutually satisfying outcome. As “networkers,” we identify and link people and resources to increase people’s knowledge of public issues and their ability to participate in public decision-making. And finally, at times we are “diplomats” who move tactfully between stakeholders to encourage them to work together through an educational process. Ultimately we are educators focused on strengthening individual and family lives through research-based educational programming in collaboration with individuals, families, communities, business and industry, regional and state agencies, for example.

For more information, please view the material posted at pittsburghmovingforward.org or recordherald.com/news/home_top-news/152050297/County-hosts-economic-roundtable.

(Submitted by Godwin Apaliyah, County Extension Educator, Fayette County & Miami Valley EERA; Fayette County Community Development Director)

 

Toledo Local Government Leadership Academy celebrates 13th year and over 300 graduates

Toledo Local Govt Leadership Acad 2015Are leaders born or are they made? While the philosophers debate that question, consider this:  For over a decade, Extension and the Ohio Sea Grant College Program have partnered with the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce to provide training focused on leadership skill development to more than 300 aspiring, new and experienced public officials.

This educational offering, now in its 13th year, is the longest running local government leadership academy in Ohio. The Academy curriculum includes materials that support eleven face to face workshops and is designed for elected officials from county, municipal and township governments, and for appointed individuals who serve on local government committees, commissions, boards or task forces. The 2015 class graduated twenty-five participants from a variety of local government backgrounds.

For more information about Academy offerings, including general and elective workshop topics, click here. To read more about this program’s impact, click here. To weigh in on the question (born or made?) feel free to post a comment!!

(Submitted by Joe Lucente, Assistant Professor and Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension and Ohio Sea Grant College Program)

Coaching made me a better boss

When I was hired as program director for Alber Enterprise Center in December 2011, I thought I knew how to be a manager and leader. After all, for two decades I studied the best authors – Drucker, Collins, Covey, Buckingham, Friedman and dozens more. I witnessed a myriad of management styles in private business and public education, and listened to their employees’ reactions, praise and complaints, then eventually began teaching leadership development courses. I knew the importance of listening, team building, problem solving, performance management and conflict resolution skills; especially their role in engaging employees and moving the organization forward. Yes, I felt confident in my abilities to lead my own team.

Well, I learned there is a difference between knowing and doing! My personal style of working entails rolling up my sleeves and digging in, taking full ownership of all details while visioning the future. My new team was great, helping me understand our center’s history with clients and excited about the opportunities to develop updated programs. After three years, we were holding our own but I knew we had so much more potential to make an impact. Sensing we had stalled, I found myself wondering about my abilities as a leader. Then a phone call from a certified coach transformed our team into a high speed powerhouse that doubled the number of delivered programs in six short months.

He called me in hopes of becoming one of our center’s educational partners; a partner in delivery of leadership training and coaching. I decided that the best way to assess his qualifications was to try him out on our team. He facilitated our strategic plan and provided follow-up coaching to help us implement our goals.

Coaching 2015-04-30What did the coach do for each of us?

  • Confidentially identified behaviors each team member wished to strengthen
  • Assessed our current level of skill in each of those behavioral areas
  • Assembled a plan of action for improvement
  • Monitored our progress through feedback and other objective means

I learned two key lessons during my coaching sessions that have helped take our center to a new level of performance:

  • Let go of the details and delegate them to others – stay focused on the big picture instead of getting “tangled in the weeds”
  • Empower others to take ownership of their jobs by using the coaching techniques I learned – listening more and speaking less, asking questions rather than directing, rewarding positive behavior and sharing successes as a team

This external (and objective) assessment not only made me a better leader and manager but has also elevated the performance of our organization and its members in the process.

(Submitted by Myra Wilson, MS, SPHR, Program Director, Alber Enterprise Center)
You want SUCCESS . . . We have SOLUTIONS!

Imagination: The Key to Making Positive Change in Groups, Organizations and Communities

What we forget about groups, organizations and communities is that they are human inventions just like moveable type, the steam engine, the automobile, the airplane and the atomic bomb. There is of course a huge difference between inventing a social system like an organization and creating an inanimate object like an automobile. The parts of an automobile do not have cognition. They can’t think. They don’t wonder if they are doing the right thing or doing the thing they have been asked to do correctly. They are not looking to be recognized for doing a good job or looking for a promotion and salary increase.

Humans, however, can and fortunately do think. Their thinking leads to meaning making, values, ethics and emotions. It is the human thinking and feeling that make organizing and all the good things that come from working together possible. At the same time human thinking and feelings make organizing enormously complex. The complex social arrangements created by humans since the beginning of time have led to our current way of life. Those complex social arrangements created by diverse people in different parts of the world lead to very different ways of living and working together. Those different ways should not scare or threaten us. Not all bridges are built the same, but they all have the same purpose.

Ideas 2015-04-23Obviously some of our social inventions for working together, resolving conflict, sharing resources and living together have not worked so well. We still settle some of our differences through violence, and there is still racism, prejudice and greed. There are far too many people who live in poverty, lack adequate food, water, education and medical care. However, looking at the facts we can see a decline in all these categories. In the area of hunger we now produce enough food to feed everyone in the world but not everyone has enough food, so we need to invent a new worldwide food distribution system. What we forget is that we invented the current worldwide food system and that the only thing that limits our ability to create something new is our imagination.

Everything that goes on in every group, organization and community is something that humans have invented and the only thing that limits our ability to create something better is our imagination. We forget that we are the inventors, and therefore we can reinvent anything that is not working. The interesting part is that research shows that the best way to reinvent a social process is to start studying what is currently working. That gives us a shared understanding of what is making organizing possible and allows us to imagine new and yet undiscovered organizational possibilities.

(Submitted by Chet Bowling, Associate Professor and Extension Specialist, Community Development)
Note: Chet will be retiring from OSU Extension on April 30. We thank him for his many years of dedicated service to Community Development work and look forward to continuing our working relationship with him in the future.

Leave it better than you found it

It was late and cold, and by that point, I really just wanted to be home on this particular Friday night in October. Instead, I was standing in the field adjacent to the high school football stadium, waiting for my daughter and her fellow band members to finish loading their instruments and uniforms into the band truck. As I saw the final carts rolled onto the vehicle, I expected the band director, an energetic, disciplined young man, enjoying the first few months of his newly minted college degree, to dismiss the group for the evening. Instead, he gathered the kids around him, and then surprisingly dispatched them into the area around the parking lot with the instructions, “Let’s leave this place better than we found it.” The teenagers happily (really, they actually seemed happy) fanned out into the field and returned with their arms full of empty pizza boxes, tattered candy wrappers and half full bottles of Gatorade. They were carrying trash that they didn’t create – garbage that had been carelessly left behind by others who had enjoyed the night’s activities.

Leave it better #2 - 2015-03-05Let’s leave this place better than we found it. I realized that those nine words communicated many of the ideals that I hope to instill in my daughter: respect, service and commitment to something larger than self. Imagine if each of us began every day with that goal in mind. At work, at school, in our communities, our homes, within our groups and families, if we each made the promise, in any way large or small, to leave this place better than we found it.

It’s easy to begin to generate a list of professionals who focus on improving people and situations – folks in the medical field, educators, architects, highway crews, just to name a few. Their “improvements” are often large, measurable and easy to see. But sometimes, the opportunities we have to improve something are more like a nudge than a big transformation. A remarkable teenager, Anne Frank, born generations before my daughter and her band friends, wrote in her diary, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” How wonderful indeed.

Seek Excellence Logo - blogIf you’re looking for a little inspiration and a lot of solid, research-based information to help improve your world, be sure to check out the educational programs and resources offered by OSU Extension’s Community Development professionals at comdev.osu.edu/programs/leadership-development/seek-excellence. We are eager to work with your community, group or business to help you discover ways that you can leave your world better than you found it.

(Submitted by Becky Nesbitt, Assistant Professor and Extension Educator, Ohio Valley EERA)

Discovering your community’s shared vision

So you missed the last meeting, only to later learn that the “Downtown Committee” decided to name you to head up the city’s initiative to revitalize the downtown. Even better, a (insert any chain store here) recently announced their desire to build a new store on the main street, razing two older buildings.

˜ How do you proceed in the face of these development pressures?
˜ What are your and fellow residents’ future dreams for the downtown?
˜ Does this new development fit?

Fortunately for you, the city just finished a visioning process which engaged residents in discovering the shared, long-term hopes for their community. Your committee will use this vision to help guide development and revitalization in your downtown.

So, what is community visioning?

Sustainable Development 2015-02-19 - West Carrollton Facilitator

West Carrollton, Ohio – Volunteer Facilitator – Gathering input during Vision Session.

It is a bottom up process based on the belief that residents have a role in articulating their shared vision for their community. It informs the community decisions and the actions of community leaders and officials. Following these key principles can help insure that the visioning process will effectively discover what residents hope for the future:

Be inclusive: make sure to solicit input from a broad range of community voices, sectors and interests

Reduce barriers to participation: go to where people gather, and piggyback on top of other events and meetings to reach more and varied residents, finding shared hopes for the future

Multiply efforts: train volunteer facilitators to conduct vision sessions as a way of extending your reach and providing access to many more residents

Think long term: push residents past everyday issues/conflicts to consider what they want their community to be for future generations

Act multi-dimensional: be sure to reach out to representatives of the community’s economic, environmental and social sectors and seek common threads that link together all three sectors

Sustainable Development 2015-02-19 - Kent Acorn Alley

Kent, Ohio – Downtown, Acorn Alley – Places to gather. Locally owned small business. Arts and culture.

Over the past 15 years, OSU Extension’s Sustainable Initiatives has helped 11 communities (including cities, counties, townships and villages) throughout Ohio discover their residents’ shared vision. This process has often been the first stage in a comprehensive community planning process. Communities have found that their planning goals, when guided by a shared community vision, are more quickly and successfully achieved.

For further information about community visioning and sustainable planning, visit the OSU Extension Community Development Sustainable Development website.

(Submitted by Myra Moss, Associate Professor and Extension Educator, Heart of Ohio EERA)

Helping to preserve diversity in Weinland Park

Weinland Park (pop. approx. 4800) is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the city of Columbus. Its residents are of various ethnic, cultural, racial, socio-economic, religious and educational backgrounds. As it transforms, however, from a neighborhood of last resort (one formerly plagued by drugs, gangs, substandard housing, low performing schools and high poverty) to a mixed income neighborhood of choice (where people want to live, work, worship or attend school), a key concern is the displacement of residents and gentrification.

Weinland Park Group

Photos: weinlandparkcivic.org

To address these concerns, Extension plays an integral role in helping to preserve diversity in the neighborhood by:

  • Offering free HUD-certified home-buyer education workshops, including individual counseling
  • Serving on the Weinland Park Collaborative, a group of community, civic, corporate, collegiate and church partners working together to revitalize the neighborhood
  • Offering free Financial Literacy training and counseling to area residents
  • Connecting residents to financial resources needed to obtain, maintain and retain their homes
  • Providing supportive services to homeowners and renters in the neighborhood
  • Assisting in the formation of Block Clubs, thereby giving residents a voice in the development of their community

As the demographics continue to change, Extension continues to respond to community needs by adapting new tools and methods to promote the diversity of the neighborhood. The goal is to create a sustainable community where all residents have opportunities to work and live together in a way that improves outcomes for all.

(Submitted by Susan Colbert, Program Director, Franklin County Expansion and Engagement)

Alber Enterprise Center: Solutions for organizational challenges

At some point, even the most successful teams, organizations, and agencies of any type (public, private, non-profit, etc.) face seemingly insurmountable barriers to growth and success. And, their inability to recognize the barrier can sometimes be part of the problem.

AEC-puzzle-graphic350x544--web1

The Alber Enterprise Center (AEC) has been providing organization development consulting for employers throughout Ohio (and beyond) since 1996. AEC is a business outreach service of The Ohio State University and OSU Extension based on the Marion campus of OSU. Their staff develop customized plans to help teams of all sizes reach their potential. Learn more about their services, including the BRIDGE program at the new AEC website. Encourage the teams, organizations, agencies and businesses in your community to check out the new on-line course catalog too.

You can also follow the Alber Enterprise Center via a variety of social media networks:

Contact the Alber Center at alber.osu.edu/index.php/en/contact-us.

Local leaders learn to engage residents to create shared vision

The residents of every community are an enormous pool of untapped power. Daily they make decisions based on their vision of the future that positively and negatively affect the community. None of those individual decisions will send a community in a decidedly positive or negative direction, but the aggregate of the multiple decisions will. As such, the way leaders engage residents may be the most important and most useful of all leadership activities. It may also be the most difficult.

Possible - Chet 2014-10-02In the 23rd Edition of the Survey of Young Americans’ Attitudes Toward Politics and Public Service done by Harvard University, only 30% of those surveyed said they trusted local government to do the right thing all or most of the time. In a society that is increasingly distrustful of government and institutions, now more than ever our leaders need to make positive change through civic engagement. But how can a leader productively bring a large number of community members with broadly diverging values and ideas together to create a shared vision?

In the Strengths Based Local Government Leadership Academy participants learn a civic engagement process called Appreciative Inquiry (AI) that has been used worldwide to help communities (and groups numbering as many as 3000) to reach common ground. The four-phase AI process starts with an inquiry into community strengths; an area where communities have the most consensus. It then turns to questions that reveal the most important visions for the future. The third phase focuses on what the community believes it should work on first and leads to the outline of an action plan. The final phase is directed at how the action plan will be implemented. During the academy participants not only experience the AI process, they learn the theory behind it so they can adapt it to multiple uses in their communities.

For more information, contact Chet Bowling.

(Submitted by Chet Bowling, Associate Professor and Extension Specialist.)

Moving from poverty to security and opportunity

BAFF Child SupportHow can we work together to increase personal financial security, address poverty and create economic opportunity? OSU Extension – University District, in collaboration with the Ohio CDC Association and Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services, has joined the Building Assets for Fathers and Families (BAFF) initiative. Ohio is one of seven states selected to pilot this initiative. Because OSU Extension is an Assets For Independence (AFI) site, we’ve been selected to provide financial education training and counseling to area residents. The BAFF initiative is designed to connect existing asset building services with non-custodial parents, especially fathers, who have been ordered by Franklin County courts to pay child support. Parents who successfully complete the program become eligible for driver license reinstatement or review and adjustment.

According to The Shriver Report:  A Women’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink (2014), 1 of 3 American women with children under the age of 18 live in or on the brink of poverty. Furthermore, 2 out of 3 women consider themselves the primary breadwinner of the family. These statistics demonstrate the essential role of child support payments and programs.

BAFF IDAOSU Extension is able to provide supportive services to Franklin County BAFF participants in collaboration with community, civic, corporate, collegiate and church partners. These programs and services include Individual Development Accounts (IDAs), which can be used towards the purchase of a home, business or higher education. Moreover, they are able to gain access to other valuable programs, services and resources including, but not limited to:  banking, GED, employment, public benefits and much more!

Not only does OSU Extension offer financial literacy training and counseling in the community, but the programming has been extended to Pickaway Correctional Institute inmates who are non-custodial parents and preparing for reintegration into society. Susan Colbert and Lois McCampbell, located in OSU Extension’s University District, are facilitating the program, which consists of four (2-hour) financial literacy workshops offered once a week for four consecutive weeks. The program offers inmates who reside in Franklin County (and have been ordered by the courts to pay child support) an array of skills that can help build a collaborative relationship between the child support agency and fathers with children. This program will provide tools to build personal financial development, credit education, positive child support financial counseling, home buying education, college pursuit directives, driver’s license reinstatement, establish paternity servicing, job preparation and more. The program has been well received by PCI officials and inmates!

(Submitted by Susan Colbert, Program Director, University District)