ECAP Results Spark Community Discussion

For the last several months, Thayer County has participated in a project  through the University of Nebraska at Lincoln known as Entrepreneurial Communities Activation Process (ECAP).

ECAP is a two-year research project examining the eight characteristics communities need to move forward and be successful.

The characteristics are culture of change, leadership, sense of place, infrastructure, digitally connected, education workforce, entrepreneurial support systems and community vision.

During their research, they have also found communication to be another vital aspect of community growth.

“What we’re finding out is that when the community opens up the conversation, they are more successful,” said Phyllis Schoenholz, Nebraska Extension Educator. “If we weren’t doing this ECAP process, the communities might not talk to each other. We are opening doors for people to talk.”

As an extension educator, Schoenholz has helped coordinate  the meetings but wants attendees to be the ones who make the goals and create bridges for the community.

“Its up to the people who come,” said Schoenholz, “My goal is to bring them together and see if these eight characteristics are valid.”

Local residents participated in a county wide survey back in October and have met twice for this project: Once in Hebron on Nov. 19 and then in Bruning on Dec. 3.

During the Bruning meeting, October survey results were revealed. The survey received about 270 responses back.

“What we found was lots of community pride, a strong work ethic and a willingness for working together,” said Schoenholz.

Community members were told to ask themselves these questions when going over results: What did I already know, what surprised me and what do we need more information on?

The goal for these meetings is for the community to come up with their own goals and bring people together.

“Sometimes we get so busy doing our own thing and so focused on competition,” said Schoenholz. “In today’s world we have to work together.”

The next ECAP meeting will take place Jan. 7 in Deshler. All Thayer County residents are invited to attend and participate. Be a part of designing the future of Thayer County – don’t wait for things to just happen.  Be a part of the conversation to plan for a thriving future.

During this meeting, attendees will prioritize their goals and dreams for the community.

“People are willing to step up and do something,” said Schoenholz. “People are committed to working through this process. They are open to conversation and they want their towns and county to be successful.”

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