Huron Rising 2.0 looks to future Huron success

Posted

HURON — On a Wednesday night in September 2018, a town hall meeting occurred that involved many Huron community members. Hosted by the Huron Community Foundation (HCF), the meeting brought forth several ideas on ways the community could improve.

The meeting was known as Huron Rising, and from the list of suggestions and concerns expressed in that initial meeting, a significant portion of them have been accomplished. Five-plus years later, community leaders again gathered on Tuesday, Feb. 27, to address where the community sits now, titled Huron Rising 2.0.

“I think five years was the right amount of time,” Greater Huron Development President/CEO Ted Haeder noted. “It allowed us to show what had been done for those who showed up.”

A common refrain in talking with the Huron Rising committee is the more “positive” and “constructive” discussion that took place last Tuesday versus that first meeting.

One significant issue raised in the first gathering of Huron Rising 2.0 was the need for more daycare providers and more expansive daycare hours within Huron. Huron Rising committee member Rhonda Kludt noted that there have been substantial gains in that area, but at the same time, private providers are struggling to stay afloat in the area.

Addressing the issue of assisting current daycares and encouraging the growth of daycare and childcare providers is more than just financial.

“It’s more than just money,” Kludt stated. “Those who want a child care center place in town - there’s significant startup cost involved, yes, but then you have to have a location, you need staff. There’s so much more involved, and that’s what we can continue working on.”

Those are not just empty words, either. Of the 33 bullet points presented out of the summary from the first Huron Rising, 21 have been met or are in progress in some facet within the community, with many of those that have not been directly addressed being co-opted into other goals in some way.

The progress is something that city commissioner Rich Bragg references as a big reason that this session has notably more positive “vibes” around it.

“I think there were a lot more people that had reservations the first time,” Bragg said. “Some of them were probably warranted, but the attitude people have both in person and on the survey this time has been significantly better because, in part, I think they see that what we are doing has an effect.”

The survey shared multiple times by the group had 172 responses from people within the community, asking them to rank certain issues of importance on a scale from one to five, allowing them to provide comment input, and then gather some demographic data.

The respondents to the survey were a majority female and in the 31-49 age range, with 95 percent of respondents identifying as “white” for their racial profile. With the diversity of the  community, that’s a blind spot that the committee already sees and is working to rectify.

“We have smaller focus groups set up already to get the input from our Karen and Spanish-speaking neighbors,” Heather Burns explained.

She relayed that multiple different community leaders in diverse groups in the community were invited to participate in Tuesday’s large group session that was facilitated by Bill Anderson, Chief Operating Officer of J Michael Consulting.

The small groups will add to the input and the summary will be explored this coming Tuesday with a presentation of priorities and a wrap up session beginning at 6 p.m. back at the Huron Campus Center.

Even if someone did not attend the first meeting, they are encouraged to attend this coming Tuesday.

Part of Tuesday’s presentation and discussion will be encouraging community groups to take charge of certain areas of improvement addressed by the survey and conversation from last Tuesday and other small groups since.

“More than anything, we’re looking at this as a ‘next step’, not a final one,” Huron Community Foundation president Steve Gohn expressed.

“We want to have people feel like their voices have been heard and be looking forward to the next review to keep progress moving in Huron.”