Wednesday, January 13, 2016

America's Best Communities Competition

Carbondale did not make it past the quarter-finalist stage in the competition. See the press release below for details:

Semi-finalist winners for America’s Best Communities Prize Competition were announced recently and community leaders were disappointed that Carbondale’s submission was not selected.

Carbondale Main Street, the recipient of a $50,000 grant to create a community revitalization plan, worked together with representatives of the City and ConnectSI to develop a plan that leveraged one of Carbondale’s newest resources, gigabit fiber.  The plan, written in the form of a “playbook”, outlined a broad range of objectives centered around collaboration between the City, the University and the business community and drew heavily upon “community Champions”; energized volunteers with a vested interest in the community who would help lead the efforts.
More than 350 communities nationwide entered the competition after its launch in 2014, and 50 were selected as quarterfinalists in April 2015. Each of the 50 was awarded $50,000 in seed money to develop a Community Revitalization Plan and were paired with a major Corporation that served as a strategic advisor as part of the competition’s Adopt-a-Community Program. From this class of 50 quarterfinalist communities, the fifteen semi-finalists were selected .
Gary Williams, Carbondale’s City Manager, says of the ABC competition, “this experience provided funds to develop a plan that we will continue to explore ways to implement.  We have a valuable plan for our future.”  Meghan Cole, Executive Direct of Carbondale Main Street, echoed that statement, saying, “The Playbook is a document that the team is extremely proud of.  Throughout our journey in this competition, from the beginning, to becoming Quarterfinalists, to now, our team has come together, learned a lot, and helped to make our community better.  We are extremely grateful for this experience.”
The Writing team included Gary Williams, Interim City Manager and Travis Taylor, Planner for the City of Carbondale, Meghan Cole, Executive Director of Carbondale Main Street, and Steven Mitchell, Network Provider Coordinator for Connect SI.  Sandel & Associates were contracted to engage the community and conduct a series of public events to gather input from the community at large.

David Sandel says of the playbook community engagement and planning process, " we believe that the collaborative input from the Carbondale ABC Grant Writing  team, the City of Carbondale, SIU-C and participating residents, business owners, and students was exceptional. Carbondale certainly has a strong platform, the Connecting Carbondale Playbook, from which to execute against their inclusive vision of accelerated growth through innovation, entrepreneurship and high speed Internet access.”
Individuals are still being sought who might serve as community Champions.  Those who are interested in getting involved should contact the Carbondale Main Street office at Carbondale Main Street at (618) 529-8040.  The Carbondale Playbook is available for download on Carbondale Main Street’s website:

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