During the 2023 Economic Recovery Summit, on April 24-29th, a series of five community conversations were held to address the challenges faced by the POW community, explore potential solutions, and develop actionable strategies. Participants included community members from various backgrounds, emphasizing the importance of inclusivity and collaboration. This article summarizes the key outcomes from each conversation and highlights the collective hopes and dreams for a better future.
The Chamber's motto is "Progress Through Unity." We hope the ideas and bullet points shared here serve as a spark of inspiration for current and future business owners to get involved in developing collaborative solutions to address our shared challenges.
Conversation 1: Identifying Challenges
Participants discussed challenges such as information gaps, siloed operations, lack of engagement, and resistance to change. They also identified difficulties in filling essential positions, the need for an island-wide parks and recreation program, and the importance of integrating technology across all systems. The key issues were:
Conversation 2: Exploring Potential Solutions
Solutions proposed included endowments for local vocational education, more part-time and flexible jobs, anonymous feedback systems, and technology-driven local and off-island sales. Participants also suggested focusing on small-scale tourism, regularly scheduled community events, youth job shadowing programs, and adapting to new-age business practices. The potential solutions identified were:
Conversation 3: One-year Action Plan
Big ideas to consider within the next year included offering marketing workshops, building a server farm, providing free CPR/first aid classes, and increasing accessibility through closed captioning and disability access. Other proposals were hosting tech-based conferences, gaming competitions, and creating virtual tours of the community. Increasing options for elder and disability care, improving island-wide communication, and creating a community calendar were also highlighted. The big ideas shared were:
Conversation 4: Viable Actions
Viable actions discussed in this conversation focused on improving communication, developing a native-led chamber and visitors council, and pooling resources to support locally owned businesses. Participants also proposed hosting regular farmers/artist markets, creating a think tank, and developing a skill bank to harness local intellectual capital. Furthermore, they emphasized the importance of effective communication strategies and infrastructure support for creativity. The actions considered were:
Conversation 5: Envisioning a Brighter Future
In the final conversation, participants shared their aspirations for the future. They expressed a desire for more opportunities, positivity, effective communication, nature, happiness, and support. They also hoped for less pollution, homelessness, drugs, racism, and negativity. Young adults identified preferred viable actions such as spreading awareness, supporting the local economy, improving employment options, and providing business training through local organizations. Key takeaways:
Conclusion: The Time for Action Is Now
These community conversations showcased the power of collaboration, inclusivity, and action-oriented thinking in shaping a brighter future. By identifying challenges, exploring potential solutions, and developing actionable strategies, the community is well-positioned to create meaningful and sustainable change. The conversations emphasized the importance of engaging all community members in envisioning and working towards a better future. This series of conversations demonstrates the transformative power of collective hopes, dreams, and actions.
If you're interested in getting involved in guiding the future of economic development and improving quality of life on Prince of Wales Island, reach out to Wendy in the POW Chamber of Commerce office at 907-755-2626 or [email protected].
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