On Wednesday, Jan. 16, a team of Marshfield community leaders attended a cross-community, economic development summit in Buffalo to discuss the economic opportunities and challenges unique to rural communities.

This collaboration was part of the Community Foundation of the Ozarks’ Growth in the Rural Ozarks (GRO) program, which currently brings professional economic development guidance and support to Marshfield, Sarcoxie, Salem, Aurora and Buffalo. Rounding out attendance at the summit were representatives from the Missouri Department of Economic Development, Missouri Career Center, Missouri State University and Missouri Legislature. On this day, community leaders met to mobilize their efforts, learn more about the proactive strategies that restructure and develop rural economies and set priorities for 2019.

Buffalo’s Economic Development director Hollie Elliott welcomed participants to the downtown Buffalo Market 116 Venue and community. Mayor Brandon Kenall delivered the keynote address and set the tone for the day by engaging the audience in a core message of mutual goals and effective collaboration, based on his own experience and knowledge. “These factors are key to building capacity and momentum for economic well-being,” stated Kenall.

Discussions throughout the day focused on the foundational economic development topics of workforce and business development, program governance, community beautification, and marketing. Mary Ann Rojas and Dennis Wiggins from the Missouri Career Center presented information on capacity-building grants and soft skills training, and Paul Chavoustie, Mayor of Granby, Colorado took guests on a virtual journey through their city’s property reclamation process.  Later, community leaders applied the morning’s learning to their individual community’s strategic plan for 2019. In closing, Buffalo Area Chamber of Commerce Director Tanya Watson shared the restoration and preservation story of the venue and Buffalo’s downtown district.

The GRO initiative is a partnership between the Community Foundation of the Ozarks, USDA, and Innovation Economy Partners, Ohio.

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