Monday, June 24, 2024

Hemingway: Plain Dealing and proactive community development

by BIZ Magazine

For more than 75 years, the Bossier Chamber has been working to build this community. An additional focus in 2023 is to be more proactive in the realm of community development work we do for our region.

What is community development you might ask? While most people can easily define economic development – focusing on attracting new businesses and jobs to an area – the definition of community development seems either too simple – developing the community – or too elusive to describe.

At the Bossier Chamber, we choose to define community development as a process where residents are involved in creating community vision, change and improvement. 

The first step in this process is to know our role as the Chamber: simply to facilitate community development within the community. And our first defined Community Development project is Plain Dealing, with a focus not only on the town limits but the entire 71064 zip code.

We want to help people in this community come to a shared vision for the future and help them in enacting that vision to see it become a reality. 

Our first major milestone happened on February 21 when we hosted a focus group/listening session with residents at the Plain Dealing Community Center. The event, complete with a catered lunch, gave residents and employees who work within Plain Dealing the chance to give their thoughts in six key areas:

• Business and Industry

• Health and Wellness

• Education and Workforce

• Physical Environment

• Recreation/Things to Do 

• Downtown Development

Those in attendance were asked to pick one topic at a time, and tell us the bright spots, challenges, opportunities and priorities within the topic and the move around the room to discuss another topic. We had our volunteers ready to help streamline the discussion and record answers from the public. 

For those residents who were unable to attend in February, the next session is March 21 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Plain Dealing Community Center. We will have food trucks at the center starting at 5:30 p.m. to feed residents who can attend. Then, we will break into our focus group areas again, hoping to get as many residents involved in the listening process as possible.

After both listening sessions are complete, the Bossier Chamber will compile the finding into one community presentation, which will happen later this spring. 

The main thing to remember is that residents, elected officials, business owners, employees and students – everyone – has a voice in this process and part to play in helping develop Plain Dealing into the community they want to live, work, play and learn in. 

Interested in helping us continue our work in Community Development? Feel free to reach out to me at [email protected]

Our work in Community Development won’t stop with Plain Dealing. But it will take an involved citizenry to make change happen within the community.

Jessica Hemingway, Vice president of the Bossier Chamber of Commerce

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