DECATUR– Three years after its inception, the Grow Decatur group is reassessing its priorities as it prepares for the next phase of project identification and development.
The grass-roots community group outlined their progress during a community progress update Tuesday afternoon in the Madden Auditorium at the Decatur Public Library, giving stakeholders an idea of where they are in terms of project progress and what new areas of need they have identified.
“We have been doing this for a couple of years now and we have made some good progress in some areas, like the development of the Midwest Inland Port and improving the city’s water supply, but we still have many areas to work on,” Bruce Nims, part of the Grow Decatur leadership team said. “Our top priority right now is addressing the gaps in the education system and improving workforce development.”
Nims said they planned to address those two areas specifically by getting stakeholders from Decatur Public Schools more involved, “Our next steps have to include getting as many people involved as we can; everyone has a certain set of skills and we want to know them so we can put them to best use so we can improve our community.”
Community Marketing Manager Nicole Bateman said they will be able to further their mission by improving the overall perception of the community, “Getting correct information out there is key to our success; statements like saying we have a high crime rate aren’t true and we have to get the facts out there so everybody in Decatur can become an advocate for the community.”
In addition to job growth and education, Nims said they were also going to continue to focus on economic development, making Decatur a more vibrant and attractive community, and finding ways to attract a younger demographic, specifically in the 20 to 40 age range.
“The community is our greatest ambassador, and if we can get them on board, we will be able to achieve what we have set out to do,” Nims added. “Grow Decatur isn’t a group of 7 or 8 people leading everything and coming up with all the ideas, this is a community organization and we need people on board to succeed.”
Nims said the goal moving forward is to provide a more regular update to the community on Grow Decatur’s progress, saying he would like to do one every quarter.