Connecting communities to solutions
Attracting young workers, stimulating economic growth
The Gogebic Range region boasts awe-inspiring natural beauty and opportunities for recreation. But keeping and attracting younger workers in the area has been a challenge, causing a decades-long population decline - until now.
Will Andresen, community resource development agent for Iron County Cooperative Extension, has focused on unlocking the area's potential by engaging the community -- hundreds of young people and local residents, area chambers of commerce, local governments, partners and agencies -- to leverage community assets to support and sustain the community's renaissance.
Key outcomes included:
- Engaging and involving youth in the future of their community
- Establishment of local working groups to implement community change strategies
- Shifting local paradigms on why young people leave and do not return, as well as creating a belief that positive change can occur in Iron and Gogebic counties
- Locally applied research that leads to targeted education, community engagement, and transformational change
As a result:
- Two counties from two states are collaborating to create a multi-use trail system to attract young people to the area
- A website and marketing campaign promote the range as a great place to live for the target market of young people seeking an adventure lifestyle: http://www.felivelife.com/
- Service-learning and place-based education better connect high school and college students to community assets
- Enhanced social and networking opportunities exist through a young professionals' organization