Youth Advisory Board Developed in Centerville

Posted on January 16, 2018

Paula Jensen
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Look around the small community of Centerville and you’ll see a success story in the making.

According to Jared Hybertson, the community’s Economic Development Coordinator, much of the progress and innovation happening in Centerville was sparked by RuralX.

“Almost everything we’ve done in the past two years goes back to RuralX,” he says. “It’s an event that really re-energizes us and makes us think outside the box.”

Here are just a few of the things Centerville has been doing to improve and enhance their community:

  • After being encouraged by youth engagement stories at RuralX, the community is in the process of setting up a Youth Advisory Board that reports to the Centerville Development Corporation.
  • Deb Brown and Becky McCray’s RuralX presentation about finding opportunities in empty downtown buildings inspired Centerville to host pop-up businesses inside a vacant building that is for sale. The pop-ups helped attract people to the space and also allowed local entrepreneurs to try running a business.
  • That same presentation brought about changes in a local vacant building ordinance that makes it less desirable to use empty spaces for cheap storage. Fees are also charged for run-down, dilapidated properties in an attempt to discourage absent property owners from holding onto properties that could be turned into businesses.
  • In 2016, Jared heard about the South Dakota Community Foundation Innovations grant at RuralX and applied for it as a way to help focus on improving Centerville’s downtown business district. The community was awarded a $10,000 grant, which is being used to partner with Dakota Resources and receive Empower! Community Coaching. The process so far has helped create seven Innovation Teams, which are dedicated to:
    • Downtown revitalization
    • Housing
    • Historical park preservation
    • Recruitment of a mechanic shop
    • Football complex
    • Creation of a cultural “expect success instead of failure” shift
    • Formation of Workers on Wheels
  • Through the Dakota Resources Learning Network, Jared was made aware of the SD Change Network, which is a program created by the Bush Foundation to help equip people to lead change in a more equitable and inclusive manner. Jared was accepted as one of 15 people in South Dakota to be part of the Change Network, which includes a $5,000 grant to help create positive change in Centerville.
  • Jared was inspired by Jason Roberts of Build a Better Block to create a more inviting downtown, and plans are to incorporate lighting, seating, flowers and a community mural that will showcase diversity.

“We don’t want to be one of those rural communities that doesn’t want to try anything or assumes it has been done before and didn’t work,” he says. “RuralX shows us that so many things are possible, and gives us the opportunity to meet people just like us who are making it happen. It’s a positive for our state.”

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