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A thriving community requires change and effort

A thriving community requires change and effort
November 11, 2017 Greater Freeport Partnership

By Blake Musser
November 11, 2017

Five years ago, I moved back to Freeport and the attitude here was generally that of doom and gloom. This attitude was so strong that we almost left in the first six months. We ended up staying, and I am so glad we did because we have been able to witness an incredible amount of change in a very short amount of time.

One of the reasons for this change is Collaborate Freeport. This movement formed to identify narratives about the special places, businesses, events, people and organizations that make Stephenson County a great place to explore, shop, work and live. The goal was to share these stories through compelling content. Two years later, our story is being told, and people are paying attention.

I believe that one of the reasons we are seeing this new energy and hope is that we have been willing to try something new. Our community recognized that if we wanted to thrive, we had to change. Even with this positive momentum, there are still many issues to address.

Not everyone is feeling this new hope, even though we are seeing new commercial construction, new outside investment and many growing businesses. Despite these positive advancements, there is a large portion of our population that needs to be better served.

Before everyone in our community feels this growth and prosperity, more work must be done. This will require many honest and hard conversations. It will require many of us getting out of our comfort zones and making decisions that are best for our community’s future.

I believe that one of these opportunities is making sure that similar community organizations examine their mission, vision and values and determine what is best for the community. Of course, this does not mean we forget the past, but instead, we use our history to inform our future.

I believe that Collaborate Freeport needs to lead by example. As we enter into year three, we need to ensure that we respond to our changing environment and transition to a model that is sustainable and beneficial for our community. This means finding the best fit for our brand and marketing efforts, and that we integrate into other organizations to maximize our limited resources.

To help get to the next phase, I have decided to make room. I am transitioning away from my hired position within Collaborate Freeport. My commitment to this movement has not changed, nor will my efforts and volunteerism in helping to build towards our future.

I am both excited to see the movement continue with its positive progress and I am looking forward to an exciting new career path, which will begin Nov. 13. This column will continue under the “All In” brand. Thank you to those of you who have read this column and support our community.

Blake Musser is the director of community marketing for Collaborate Freeport. He can be reached at Journal Standard article link.