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Upcoming civic forum marks start of regional economic development project

Thursday, January 28, 2016

A civic forum aimed at encouraging the public’s input in the launch of a regional economic development initiative is set for February.

Free to interested participants, the Crossing Borders Region Civic Forum will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Feb. 4 at the Indian Capital Tech Center in Stilwell. Lunch will be provided.

Participants are asked to register online at http://bit.ly/1Qn9WPm or by calling Robin Stand at 918-453-5701.

The forum will serve as residents’ primary opportunity to contribute to the planning process after the region was recently selected for the national economic development program, “Stronger Economies Together.”

The Crossing Borders region includes Cherokee, Adair, Sequoyah and Delaware counties.

“Business, civic and community leaders as well as members of the general public will find the forum enlightening as they contribute to the formation of a vision for regional economic improvement,” said Jim Wilson, chairman of the Northeast Oklahoma Regional Alliance.

SET is a national partnership between the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development and the Cooperative Extension Service launched in 2010. The program helps rural communities work together to boost regional economic development opportunities.

“We know that an increasing value of community ideas and assets corresponds to improvement of local economies, personal income and quality of life. By expanding our vision to include multiple communities and counties, we increase the available assets, the human capital and the energy of ideas necessary to generate prosperity,” Wilson said.

During the forum, participants will be divided into small groups to discuss the region’s strengths, challenges and opportunities as well as review relevant economic and demographic data.

Feedback from each small group will be recorded, summarized and used to build a strategic plan, which will be developed over the course of the SET program’s planning process.

As part of SET, the region will participate in several coaching sessions, including the civic forum.

Crossing Borders also will have access to technical assistance from the SET coaching team made up of professionals from state and federal agencies, OSU and the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service.

Other public and private organizations also providing expertise include Oklahoma Small Business Development Centers, CareerTech, Oklahoma Department of Commerce and the Oklahoma Native American Technology Council.

For more information about the civic forum or SET, contact Dave Shideler, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension community development specialist and an associate professor in the department of agricultural economics, at 405-744-6170 or dave.shideler@okstate.edu.

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