Future funding must target the entire community

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With additional funding to come, Jefferson City must consider the community as a whole.

This was Thursday’s message from the second community needs assessment meeting.

The community needs assessment is part of the city’s request for COVID-19 relief funding from the state’s Community Development Grant (CDBG-CV). The city plans to ask for $ 2 million, which is the maximum it can ask for.

This funding will go to aspects of city life impacted by COVID-19, but the city also has other sources of funding coming up that could meet other needs.

The project areas for this money pool would be infrastructure, community amenities, public service, economic development, planning and demolition.

While the city may use some of the money for projects, some will also be under-awarded to community organizations for projects.

The first meeting, along with a community survey, mainly saw support for funding for low-income and transitional housing. This included homeless shelters and new homes.

While people brought up the accommodation on Thursday night, that was not the main topic of discussion.

John Blosser, of Transitional Housing, discussed the organization’s goal of renovating homes so new residents can enter.

The organization is currently renovating a home on Cherry Street and has another project in the works, but is seeking funds to continue the efforts.

“We are looking for other properties,” he said. “We are volunteers. We have no paid staff and we rely on charitable donations to do our work. This will be the first grant we are asking for.

However, the other two speakers at Thursday’s meeting encouraged the city to focus on economic development while providing the whole community with what it needs.

Tyree Byndom, CEO of Urban UniverCity – a black-owned technology and startup company in Columbia, pointed out that the city’s survey results cited workforce development and entrepreneurship as Poor or fair in Jefferson City.

These are the areas that are driving the recovery, he said, because these are areas where investing money can make money.

“It’s not a waste to really help people recover, learn soft skills, learn to use emerging technologies so they know how to get into social media, web development, different types skills, ”he said.

The historic Foot district, Byndom said, is one example of a problem cities across the country are currently facing, how to address the historic removal of black community centers.

“No one really figured out how to get over it,” Byndom said.

He also stressed the importance of a plan, based on research, to address issues within the community.

“We are looking at all cities to measure solutions that are effective and proven to work,” he said. “When you try to start something, you don’t just start something as a pilot and you don’t know whether it’s going to work or not. With these funds to come, especially with the $ 350 billion from the US bailout, many in the community see it as their last blow and their last opportunity to truly recover.

Adrian Hendricks, founder of the Center for Change and Community Life, said he appreciates the opportunity to have this conversation.

The goal, said Hendricks, is to see Jefferson City as a “holistic community.”

One of the big questions, he said, is “how do we put our resources in a space that will give young people the opportunities so that they can have sustainability and they can thrive?

“Someone needs to be having a conversation about the social and cultural infrastructure of our city,” said Hendricks.

Some of the outstanding issues, he said, are economic development, skills training and workforce development.

Hendricks said that one thing that needs attention is the development of a small business incubator.

When the community at large doesn’t fix a problem, Hendricks – who is also a pastor at Joshua House Church – said religious congregations appreciate his need to step in with the limited funds they have.

“Maybe this is a flaw in the way we look at the community and there may be a reason to donate, a concept or to put in place the type of infrastructure that will allow this type of support,” he said. -he declares. “The other side of this conversation, I think it’s important, is that there will always be a demographic that will have an opinion…”

These people tend to have access to the Internet, he said, and are able to respond to surveys released by the city or state.

“We need to understand that there is a population of people who will not be represented in this data,” Hendricks said. “We who look at this data have to make decisions about who is not being spoken, who is not being heard.”

The problem, he said, is that there are groups like Center for Change and Community Life or Building Community Bridges that have plans and goals, but ultimately lack the space to execute those plans.

“I think it’s a good place to start looking at how we do this stuff, how do we cultivate the resources that get to the people who have needs,” he said. “How do we engage these groups of people who are usually not engaged? I have a couple of things that I think are essential. I think they are necessary. The entrepreneurship and small business development incubator must be created, offering a place for young people to be in some cases the directors of the future, having this type of advisory boards for young people. “

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