Hometown rural America... a good place to work, live, and raise a family. The positive vision is there. However, many small towns now find themselves actually exporting their wealth rather than building it, and young people are leaving communities because of lack of opportunity. Small towns must now compete. In order for small communities to prosper, the entire community must work together to achieve success. That is why a number of Hillsdale County organizations have become involved with a new program entitled HomeTown Partnerships (HTP).
HTP is a model for effective and sustainable rural community and economic development. It is about assessing what already exists within our county, identifying gaps, and working towards projects and programs to fill those gaps. We hope to make this happen by partnering with community members and organizations that share the same vision of making things happen in Hillsdale County.
HomeTown Partnerships recognizes that although small towns and rural communities may be struggling, they have significant local resources and resolve that, when focused on four essential and workable strategies, they can reverse declining trends in their communities. HTP encourages communities to take immediate action in four strategic areas: Leadership, Charitable Assets, Entrepreneurship and Youth.
Leadership development strives to strengthen the capacity of residents to improve and sustain their community. The goal of youth development is to support and enhance the idea of adults and youth working together to create opportunities for youth to stay in or return to the community. The purpose of developing charitable assets is to strengthen and sustain charitable giving at the local level in order to build an endowment that will sustain local civic institutions and create a new source of opportunity capital for community economic development efforts. The efforts of entrepreneurial development work to identify and assess entrepreneurial talent in the community and to devise an economic development strategy to increase entrepreneurial business development.
Together, these strategies create a synergy that can significantly impact the future prospects of rural areas experiencing out-migration and economic decline. HTP calls for rural communities to invest in local human resources and to build and retain local wealth.
HTP is drawing significant attention in Nebraska and nationally because rural leaders and practitioners recognize that even the most distressed community has, to some degree, each of the necessary elements to launch an HTP approach. What differentiates HTP from many other development efforts is that it focuses primarily on internal resources and assets. The goal is to assess where our community is, here and now, and to build on the current capacity of each of the four elements.
HTP VISION STATEMENT
HomeTown Partnerships seeks to enhance communication and collaboration that builds upon existing community assets and creates capacity to promote sustainable community success.