Let’s make it easy to grow up and grow old here.
People love small towns, open spaces, and quiet rural life. This is community economic development opportunity for west central Missouri. Seizing it requires innovation and investment in what it takes for young and old to live well here, from quality, affordable housing to transportation options and healthy neighborhoods.
We work with west central Missouri to discover what’s possible, and make it happen.
HEALTHY PEOPLE, HEALTHY PLACES
Healthy, happy children learn well. Caring neighbors cheer one another on, and pick each other up. New Growth works to build thriving places by facilitating and promoting efforts to make sure everyone can lead healthy active lifestyles, eat well, find opportunity, and enjoy meaningful relationships. One example is our collaboration with the citizens and city of Osceola on a community action plan to address walkability, child care, and more through the national Healthy People, Healthy Places program. Another is work toward a neighborhood resource hub in El Dorado to improve access to services such as job training and financial counseling, as well as strengthen the relationships and readiness of low income families to make their way out of poverty.
New Growth and partners are working through the new Rides to Health and Wealth Network to begin building a regional solution to transportation challenges, starting with medical-related rides. Making sure more people have reliable, affordable transportation can make a big difference. Seniors are able to stay here. Young people are able to grow here. Hospitals avoid the high cost care that comes when people miss out on preventative and follow up care. Communities reduce the number of people who resort to payday lenders to cover basic car expenses. These are some of the everyday transportation challenges that drag our rural region down and which collaboration and innovation in transportation can address for community and economic development.
Quality housing is essential for west central Missouri’s people, businesses, and communities to thrive. Rural places need moderately priced homes for nurses, teachers, and police officers. Families need safe, clean and energy efficient homes to keep children healthy and budgets balanced. New Growth, its parent organization West Central Missouri Community Action Agency, and other partners are exploring how they can help. Possibilities include housing stock assessments that can both attract and focus investment by showing where remediation is most needed and new development is most feasible. Assistance to tenants and landlords can include weatherization to reduce costs and financial counseling to reduce late payments. Tackling these challenges together, as a region rather than every community on their own, is essential.
The stalemate in rural broadband development is one that New Growth and partners hope to break with efforts to inform, support, and unite west central Missouri communities calling for 21st century service. The first Kaysinger Talks Broadband forum in late 2018 brought a range of business, local government, and other interests together to assess the situation and consider strategies. It is clear that building local awareness and action is essential; no more waiting for state, federal, or corporate solutions in the form of meager grant programs and still-substandard internet speeds. Future forums will include models, tools, and guidance from the nation’s growing community networks movement.