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Current Projects

USDA Training and Technical Assistance Grant

This three-year project is designed to help Gage County, Nebraska, communities identify and plan for community facility needs and other community and economic development priorities. Last spring, nearly 860 students from the county responded to a survey asking questions about their communities and their plans for the future. Surprisingly, perhaps, more than half of these middle school and high school students pictured themselves living in their hometowns in the future.

This fall, community leaders will be invited to regional town hall meetings to set community and economic development priorities and to hear how resource agencies could help them find technical or financial assistance to implement those priorities. Partners in this project, in addition to the Heartland Center, are NGage (the county economic development corporation) and University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension. This project is funded by a USDA Rural Development grant.

Prosperity Communities Initiative

The Heartland Center is a partner in this University of Nebraska project to build the capacity of a cohort of rural Nebraska communities to create the conditions that enable a more prosperous future. The project focuses on people attraction, economic development and placemaking. This fall, a series of case studies will be written to capture lessons from five pilot communities spread throughout the state of Nebraska. This project is funded through a grant from the University of Nebraska Rural Futures Institute.

Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte Hospital Renovation

The Heartland Center is a partner with the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs to plan renovation of a former hospital, which was built in Walthill, Nebraska, in 1913 by the first Native American to earn a medical degree in the U.S. The building, which is now home to a small museum, is a national landmark. It would be renovated to contain, for example, an expanded museum, Omaha tribal offices or space for community activities. The Heartland Center is leading the strategic planning and needs assessment phases for this proposal. This project is also funded by USDA Rural Development.

Clues to Rural Community Survival

Several authors from around the country have contributed chapters to a new edition of the Heartland Center’s landmark book, Clues to Rural Community Survival. These chapters are undergoing in-house editing, and several more are in preparation. The new edition is expected to be published in early 2019 as an e-book. This will be the fourth edition of the book first published in 1987 by co-authors Vicki Luther and Milan Wall. Dr. Luther, now retired, is a founding co-director of the Heartland Center with Mr. Wall.

In the summer of 2018, Milan was a guest at a workshop in St. Petersburg, Russia, focused on the 20 Clues to Community Survival and their relevance to community improvement efforts in western and southern Russia. The workshop was organized by a Russian community development consultant who completed a fellowship in 2014 at the Heartland Center.