Chillicothe Wins Community Resiliency Award 

It’s been a tough year, but America’s small- and mid-size communities are rising to the occasion. Chillicothe, Ohio, is one of them. During the November 18 & 19, 2020 EntreCon business and leadership conference—hosted by Studer Community Institute (SCI), a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization devoted to improving the quality of life in communities—the city received a Community Resiliency Award.

Leading up to the yearly conference, SCI founder Quint Studer—who is also author of Building a Vibrant Community (book info) and founder of Vibrant Community Partners—asked cities and towns of all sizes to share some of the small, incremental steps they’re taking to get stronger and more vibrant. During EntreCon, which featured its first ever “community track” this year, Chillicothe received the award for its Community Response team.

Created at the start of the COVID pandemic, the team represents a unified approach for addressing local needs and collaborating on solutions. It included city employees, government agencies, nonprofits, schools, mental health providers, and housing authorities as well as the chamber of commerce.

By coordinating efforts and getting everyone rowing in the same direction, they were able to quickly tackle emerging problems like hunger, housing, and mental health.

The Community Response Team is a perfect model for how stakeholders in a community can collaborate and generate big results,” says Studer. “It wasn’t about whose job it was or who got the credit, it was about creating unity and executing quickly. While created as a system for managing emergencies, it’s a blueprint for how communities can break down silos and work together to solve their most pressing problems–a key part of creating a great place to live.”

Mike Throne, President/CEO of Chillicothe-Ross Chamber of Commerce, says he was delighted to receive the award on behalf of the Community Response Team.

“Of course we are honored to receive the Community Resiliency Award, but mostly we are grateful that we’ve been able to help pull our community through this tough time,” he says. “It has been a wonderful experience to see how well everyone works together to get things done. We’ve built a framework for our community to find solutions to the problems we face beyond COVID.”

The criteria for the award centered on ideas and best practices that create a lot of “bang for the buck” and are easy to replicate. Besides Chillicothe, other winning cities were Columbia, Mississippi, Elkins, West Virginia, Hot Springs Arkansas, Martin County, Florida, Palatka, Florida, Springfield, Ohio, and Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Studer says he hopes to compile a library of good ideas and best practices that other communities can learn from, replicate, refine, and share—and that he is grateful to Chillicothe for being a part of it.

“While it’s the big glamorous projects that usually get the most attention, I’m more impressed by the small but still impactful things communities do to move toward vibrancy,” adds Studer. “These are the kinds of things that are doable and sustainable.”

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Quint Studer is author of Building a Vibrant Community: How Citizen-Powered Change Is Reshaping America and Wall Street Journal bestseller The Busy Leader’s Handbook: How to Lead People and Places That Thrive. He is founder of Pensacola’s Studer Community Institute, a nonprofit organization focused on improving the community’s quality of life, and Vibrant Community Partners, which coaches communities in building out a blueprint for achieving growth and excellence. Quint speaks and works with communities across the country, helping them execute on their strategic plans, create a better quality of life, and attract and retain talent and investment. He is a businessman, a visionary, an entrepreneur, and a mentor to many. He currently serves as Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the University of West Florida, Executive-in-Residence at George Washington University, and Lecturer at Cornell University.

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