The Rural Klamath Connects Network started nearly two years ago under the name “Basin Revitalization Network,” following a regional economic development summit that identified downtown development and regional branding/marketing as priorities. Participants at a July 2014 Klamath County Economic Development Summit prioritized regional branding/marketing and downtown beautification. Following the Summit, several community leaders, with support from Community Systems and Oregon Main St, initiated a regional community revitalization process.
The Rural Klamath Connects Network currently includes five small communities: Bonanza, Merrill, Malin, Tulelake, Butte Valley. Chiloquin and Lakeview have participated in regional workshops, contributing to greater awareness and connection throughout the Basin. Volunteer teams of 5-10 people from each community are leading the charge in identifying local improvement and community engagement projects with dozens of additional residents involved in specific community improvement projects. Youth, local businesses, service clubs, Chambers, and individuals have contributed both time and money towards this effort’s success.
The goal of the Network is to share ideas, leverage resources, increase communication and awareness in our region. We support the creation of programs, projects and events that promote economic development, share our history, beautify our downtowns, encourage tourism and create opportunities for our residents to invest their time and resources back into their communities. We believe these goals will produce more vibrant, engaged and economically sustainable communities and a strengthened region.
In the fall of 2014, Teams from Basin small towns conducted 1st Impression visits and assessed their own assets/challenges /opportunities. In Nov 2014 and again in 2015, these teams attended workshops to set goals, exchange ideas, build their capacity and plan for action. Several projects have already been accomplished in each community, including signage, new and improved parks, façade beautification, and community events that promote pride and engagement. In 2015, 14 people, including 5 youth, attended an Oregon Main St. conference and returned with new ideas and resources. In 2016 team leads collaborated with the South Central Oregon Economic Development District (SCOEDD) to successfully apply for a Travel Oregon Rural Tourism Studio and a RARE (AmeriCorps) participant to provide outreach, coordination and planning support. Over $27,000 was raised collaboratively to support these two initiatives, with funds contributed by local businesses and individuals, cities, Klamath County, nonprofit organizations and foundations. In 2016 members of the Network, with the assistance of Community Systems and funding support from The Ford Family Foundation, began development of the Rural Klamath Connects website. This website is a collaborative initiative designed to increase awareness, encourage coordination, strengthen local and regional connections, and engage more citizens.
The Rural Klamath Connects Network is stimulating collaborative efforts across Basin communities and contributing to regional cohesion and strategies. Outreach and engagement of additional community members continues to be a key goal. Reaching out to engage less involved sectors of our communities, including youth, families, Latinos, and small business owners will contribute to greater pride, sense of ownership and success. We invite you to join us in building stronger, more vital communities and a vibrant, welcoming region.