|What are the greatest needs facing Rutherford County and how do they impact business, education, government, human services, health care and safety and security?
For Nathan Copeland, a small business owner in Rutherford County, the greatest need is more skilled workers who are citizens.
“We need to concentrate more on trades education,” Copeland said.
Murfreesboro resident Danny Clark believes the county’s greatest need is hiring and keeping high quality teachers.
“When you have quality teachers the students recognize that and excel,” Clark said.
Assisting battered women and women recently released from incarceration is a high priority for Donna Kolinske, who volunteers for Right Road Ministry out of La Vergne.
In every corner of the county and across every sector of the community, there are real needs and concerns, said Brian Hercules, CEO of United Way of Rutherford and Canon Counties.
Identifying those issues and opportunities and how they ripple across the various sectors of society is the focus of the newly formed Community Assessment Committee. Co-chaired by Hercules and Paul Latture, president of the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce, the committee recently hired Middle Tennessee State University’s Center for Organizational and Human Resource Effectiveness to complete a comprehensive study of Rutherford County.
“We intend for this assessment to help us understand where to best channel our resources,” said Latture.
Having participated in a similar study in Columbus, Ga., where he lived prior to returning home to Rutherford County, Hercules believes the community will be surprised by the overlap in needs.
“It’s going to be amazing to see how these aspects do intertwine,” Hercules said.
He cited a finding in Georgia regarding the increase in indigent care costs at the local hospital.
The study concluded these costs were associated with a population increase of homeless men and women, many of whom avoided traditional shelters. After installing showers for homeless use, with no questions asked, hospital costs declined.
COHRE is already laying the groundwork for the assessment and expects completion by the end of 2013. The entire process will involve interviews with government officials, educators, nonprofit organizations, business leaders and the general public, said Beverly Burke, MTSU professor and COHRE consultant working on the assessment.
“We want the community to have ownership of the project,” Burke said. “We plan to have a broad involvement.”
In addition to personal interviews, COHRE will conduct focus groups, online surveys and public forums. They also plan to launch a website that will keep the community apprised of the study’s progress.
Once complete, the study will be housed at MTSU and available to anyone with an interest in the information.
Joining Hercules and Latture on the assessment committee are Jill Converse, Murfreesboro City Manager Jim Crumley, Community Relations Coordinator James Evans, Meagan Flippin, Linda Gilbert, Nancy Lim, Newton Malloy, Lee Moss, Ronnie Shaw, Sam Tune, Beth Smith, Rebecca Upton and Joe Vales.
The committee is seeking additional members and those interested should contact Hercules at 615-893-7303.
Thus far, funding for the assessment have come from a variety of sources including Middle Tennessee Medical Center, the Christy Houston Foundation, the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce, United Way of Rutherford and Canon counties and the cities of Murfreesboro, Smyrna and Eagleville.
The real purpose behind the study is discovering how to positively impact the future of Rutherford County, Hercules said.
“It’s a chance to plan our future rather than accepting what comes,” he said.