NEK Collaborative Shows Clear Intent
Community leaders in the three counties of Vermont's Northeast Kingdom have moved toward collective planning for about twenty years. The
recently reformatted its governing board and its strategies for collaboration with funders. The new strategy calls for cooperation among many stakeholders. Regional planning commissions and health care agencies, local culture organizations, food delivery systems, and others will annually identify a focused set of issues in which funding could most effectively drive desired impacts.
"This Collective Impact model has been moving closer and closer for some time. The opportunity here is to align clear needs in the region with funding capacities for maximum impact. I'm very excited to watch this large-scale planning tool develop in the next few years," explained Collaborative vice chair Jody Fried.
From a field of a dozen pressing issues, the NEK Collaborative identified two regional priority areas for the coming year:
Advancing Economic Development through the Creative, Recreation, and Food Sectors - A tri-sector task force will develop a comprehensive strategy to leverage existing assets. New partnerships will create jobs and retain or grow the region's skilled workforce. Sector strategies could include engagement to energize downtown development, industry recruitment and marketing, and presenting the region as a hub for collaborations attractive to both residents and visitors. The task force could help foster growth by connecting owners and entrepreneurs with startup and growth capital and technical assistance.
Expanding Leadership Development - Expanding youth development and leadership programs will help more people become engaged with civic life and provide opportunities for citizen empowerment. A task force will advance programs that help emerging and seasoned leaders build knowledge, strengthen skill sets, and cultivate a network with shared goals and plans. These programs could include increasing access to higher education and career training for youth, assisting adults in finding new opportunities, and building a career development network.