The first step was taken in finding people’s priorities when it comes to improving the community.
Recently, the Jamestown Strategic Planning and Partnerships Commission community planning session was held at the Sarita Weeks Room in the Arts and Sciences Building at Jamestown Community College. During the meeting, Tory Irgang, United Way of Southern Chautauqua County executive director, gave a presentation on the new Community Status Report.
Irgang said every so often the United Way prepares a community report that gives planning and study information with local data, trends and community characteristics. In 1991, the Southern Chautauqua County Human Services Status report was done. In 1997, the Community Report Card & Companion Indicators For Community Action statement was released. In 2006, the Community Report Card summary was completed.
Irgang said the new Community Status Report was designed to promote understanding of social conditions and trends, and focus attention on efforts to address and improve these conditions in the greater Jamestown area. Utilized by the United Way in identifying priorities for funding, the report also provides data used by local human services organizations when applying for federal, state and local grants.
Irgang said for this project, the data is the starting point and will serve as a basis for a series of community conversations designed to identify community priorities. Once priorities are identified, further research into successful programs and benchmarks will be designed to address community issues.
Irgang said the 95-page report will be concluded by the end of September, and then released to the public. Thursday, Irgang went through the report’s executive summary. The executive summary showed different social topics like population; median household income; teen pregnancy rate; home ownership; unemployment rate; and school enrollment. The executive summary compared the new report data to the last status report done in 2006, with indicators detailing if these community issues were improving or getting worse.
“Things are not moving in the right direction,” Irgang said, refering to the new report indicates for some social issues.
From the new report, 16 conclusions were made that need prioritized so the most pressing issues can be addressed first. Irgang then asked the about 50 people who attended to prioritize what issues need more attention. Each attendee was give 25 cents that came in different denominations, which means some people receiving two dimes and a nickel or two dimes and five pennies or just one quarter. Each community resident was then asked to put money in the conclusions where they think the most help is needed.
After the money was tallied, the conclusion that received the most change was the issue with poverty. The second conclusion was workforce development and the third was the need for more higher education opportunities.