Community selected to participate in Baldridge Communities of Excellence Program

Several key organizations in Brookings and the surrounding region have committed to a twelve-month learning opportunity designed to enhance and improve the performance of the community and its leaders.

Communities of Excellence is a systematic approach that uses a Baldridge-based framework to lead communities through change and transformation. Led by Brookings Economic Development Corporation (BEDC), representatives from Brookings County, the cities of Brookings, Arlington and Volga, Brookings Area Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureau, Brookings Health System, Brookings School District, South Dakota State University, Brookings Municipal Utilities and the East Brookings Business and Industry Association applied to be part of the program this summer. The community was chosen to join the 2019 cohort which kicks off in September.

Brookings is already well-known and nationally recognized for being a highly engaged and collaborative community, but that doesn’t stop area leaders from wanting to improve.

“We continue to strive for higher levels of involvement and understanding within our community building process,” said Keith Corbett, mayor of Brookings. “The Communities of Excellence program will help us define a shared vision, common goals and short and long-term priorities that will most impact our future in a positive way and provide a roadmap for how to proactively take our community to the next level.”

Although the Baldridge Excellence Framework for organizations has been around for about 30 years, this is only the second year of the program specifically designed for communities. The goal of the community framework is to improve the health status, educational attainment and economic vitality of residents by focusing on improving overall community performance. A diverse, values-driven leadership team comprised of residents from key sectors will be established to lead the implementation process.

Participating groups recognize that Brookings is a community with tremendous growth potential, but that growth will bring change and the need to assess and improve on existing processes.

“We need to evaluate how we currently function in the areas of community engagement, collaboration and decision-making to achieve the best possible outcomes from that change,” said Al Heuton, executive director of BEDC. “That process requires participation by all key organizations in the region. We are thrilled that our development partners recognize the value of committing to the Baldridge improvement process in order to meet the needs and aspirations of our residents.”

While the core organizations completed the initial application, Heuton expects other groups will be involved in the process moving forward. The private sector has also committed its support of Communities of Excellence through funding provided by Vision Brookings, a five-year, $2.5 million economic growth initiative for the Brookings region. The cost for the year-long program is $20,000.

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