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Posted on: January 10, 2019


City Given Grant
Funds to spur economic growth
By Jeff Bryan 
Thursday, December 20, 2018 at 10:51 am
The city of Dunnellon secured a state grant through the Department of Economic Opportunities, and now officials are hoping to make the most of the $25,000 opportunity.

The funding comes from the state agency’s “Competitive Florida Partnership Grant,” which assists municipalities complete a review of existing economic development and planning documents, facilitate public participation efforts to undertake outreach and engagement with residents, take a comprehensive inventory of its assets and draft an action-oriented economic development strategy, according to documents the city provided.

The city has contracted with Kimley-Horn to provide these services in compliance with the grant agreement between the DEO and the city.

As part of the deal between the city and Kimley-Horn, the firm will host up to three community meetings, one of which is a public meeting and one of which is focused on a stakeholder engagement strategy, where program activities will be discussed and input from the public will be sought.

The city will invite stakeholders such as elected and public officials, business and economic development leaders, the agreement states. Community action agencies, and associated nonprofit organizations will participate in the meetings.

Kimley-Horn will draft a written report detailing how the public was included in the meeting;
the information gathered from the community at all such meetings; and reflections on the unanticipated and most urgent findings expressed during the meetings. The report shall analyze feedback from the community meeting in terms of:

* Urgency — Findings that support the need to act quickly on a topic.

* Newness — Findings that project team members discovered to be new or unusual based upon the project team’s and representative’s understanding of the community.

* Equity — findings that support a whole-community approach to inclusive development.

* Importance — Findings that support policies or projects that will have impact (can be incremental and slow in nature).

* Sustainability — Findings that point to emergent policies or projects that can be sustained in the long term, with reference to environment, culture, and population.

Other factors as explained by the project team.

Allison McGrath, with Kimley-Horn, will serve as the point person on the project. She recently assisted the city of Williston, which had obtained the same grant a year ago.

“I just experienced a wonderful program with Williston,” McGrath told the council. “It really just gives you an opportunity to brag about yourselves. The intention is to help communities to foster vibrant healthy communities and into the next level of economic development.”

It starts off with three community conversations, she explained. McGrath encouraged the council to make all of meetings public, because the best benefit is getting the most feedback.

“I know you have interested parties here, volunteer-based if you will,” she said. “If your folks invest in the program, then we can get Dunnellon moving forward. It’s a great tool, a fun process, and if you believe enough in your city, you can brag about just how awesome your city is.”

The grant funding will only cover the cost of the public meetings and reports. Once the city chooses which projects to move forward with, the funding will become the city’s responsibility.

“It takes the politics out,” McGrath said. “You empower the citizens to come forward, identify assets and what’s important to us as a community. New council could walk right in and keep right moving it down the court.”

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Posted on the City's website:  1/10/2019

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