Stennis Institute to lead community workshop

Contact: Zack Plair

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi State’s Stennis Institute of Government and Community Development is partnering with the University of North Alabama to spread a message of intracommunity cooperation.

The tandem will offer a StrategicDoing workshop at 9 a.m. Thursday [Feb. 4] at downtown Tupelo’s Renasant Center for Ideas. At the event, four teams – including civic leaders from Pontotoc, Poplarville, Aberdeen and Ashland/Holly Springs – will identify an opportunity in their respective communities, then develop a project and an action plan to cooperatively achieve it, said Joe Fratesi, project director for the Stennis Institute.

“Each project will be different, much like the communities themselves are different,” he said.

Fratesi said communities’ goals for such things as economic development, crime reduction and tourism sometimes fail because members of their leadership networks (city and county governments, chambers of commerce, economic development boards, etc.) are often independent entities who don’t answer to each other. StrategicDoing, first developed by the Purdue Center for Regional Development in West Lafayette, Indiana, helps guide loosely-connected networks to collaborate quickly across organizational and political boundaries.

“It’s about linking and leveraging your assets to see what opportunities emerge,” Fratesi said. “Then they can develop measurable goals for how to address those opportunities.”

Fratesi said this is a pilot program he hopes will eventually spread to help public and private sector networks across Mississippi.

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