Washington Department of Commerce hosting second community focus event for New Approaches pilot program

(BRANDON HANSEN/Chewelah Independent)

Event will happen on Feb. 11 from 5-7 p.m…

The process of the New Approaches pilot program rolls on in Chewelah.

After one well-received open house at the Civic Center last November, the WA Department of Commerce (Commerce) is co-hosting a Community Focus Event at the Civic Center on Feb. 11 from 5-7 p.m. to continue to build the partnership between the city and Commerce.

“It will provide an opportunity for the community to drop in and share their views about many important community needs and talk with local leaders,” Commerce Community Outreach Specialist Julia Havens said.

This New Approaches pilot, also taking place currently in Hoquiam in Grays Harbor County and Toppenish in Yakima County, is an important part of Commerce’s focus on strengthening communities.

Havens said that community engagement is priceless when it comes to programs like this.

“Information on resources to address most of the needs identified by the community will be provided to the community leaders for future reference as readiness increases and opportunities arise,” Havens said. “After working on the first few priorities, the community will be poised and prepared to keep working down the list.”

Members of the public can visit information stations concerning the various needs identified by the community at the open house. The department is hoping to continue to dial in and focus on these needs. Some of these focuses include economic development, community building renovations, early education, senior/elder resources, housing and a healthy downtown.

“Attendees will rank the community issues that are most important to them at this event,” Havens said. “Chewelah leadership, representing a variety of sectors, will then compile the feedback from the community and use it as they consider their selection of two priorities to receive technical assistance from the Department of Commerce.”

The city will have to factor in workload, feasibility, strategic impacts and readiness when picking which programs that can be applied to Chewelah’s needs.

The last open house attracted 100 people and 71 event evaluations were completed.

“There are some needs that the community identified during the November event that are in the process of being addressed or are outside of the scope of the Chewelah leadership,” Havens said. “There will be information on those needs at the event.”

With people taking surveys at the last open house, many people were impressed with the structure of the event.

“The majority felt that voicing their opinions and being part of a community effort were the most important results of the event,” Havens said. “We hope that this community-driven event on February 11 will be a fun and easy opportunity to come share your thoughts to help Chewelah focus on a few priorities to start with.”

Members of the public can drop by the Chewelah Civic Center on Feb. 11 from 5-7 p.m., grab a bite to eat and voice their thoughts.