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Woolley Chairs 2009-10 Community Council Study to Focus on Value-Adding to Optimize the use of Agricultural Resources

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Contact: Mary Campbell

Chairman Steven Woolley announces that the 2009-10 Study facilitated by Community Council is scheduled to begin December 8 and invites all interested to participate.

The study will explore how the region’s economic viability can be improved through the creation of businesses that add value to agricultural resources not currently being utilized to their fullest economic potential.

The first two sessions are scheduled for December 8 and 15. After a break for the holidays, weekly sessions will resume January 5. The meetings will be 5:30 to 7 p.m. Tuesday evenings at St. Francis parish hall, 722 W. Alder, Walla Walla.

Community Council’s studies address issues identified by local residents as important to the region between Burbank and Dayton, from the Snake River to Milton-Freewater. The topic selection committee identified optimizing local resources as this year’s choice because of the region’s natural resources, residents’ strong entrepreneurial spirit, existing infrastructure, proximity to shipping lines and major highways, proactive Ports, and because expertise for developing successful value-adding industries is available in the Pacific Northwest.

Woolley, a retired rector of St. Paul’s Church and an Episcopal priest, has lived in Walla Walla since 2000. Prior to his ministerial career, he worked in the public sector, as an educator and as an executive with a major business advocacy group.

Woolley said that his interest stems not only from his family connection to agri-business but also from his many years of working on community development and agricultural issues throughout the Northern Great Plains and Pacific Northwest. “Entrepreneurial imagination,” he said, “is the spark that can ignite sustained economic growth based on the resources we already have.”

During the study’s 26-week curriculum, the group will assess local resources, infrastructure capacities and regulations, and funding and marketing opportunities. The group will assess what is already happening in the region, as well as explore practices in other communities. From these findings the group will develop recommendations for local action.

A management team is helping to organize the study. Joining Woolley on the team are Jon Campbell, Tim Gibson, Clive Kaiser, John Mathwich, Laura Minnick, Lanny Ptachek, and Mari Sanders.

This will be the second community study facilitated by Community Council. Enhancing the Educational Attainment of the Region’s Children was the first. The study phase of that project was completed in May 2009, and Community Council will support efforts to implement recommendations from that study for the next two years. A task force chaired by retired Judge Robert Zagelow has begun that process.

Community Council’s goal is to engage the whole community in the exploration of topics—opportunities or challenges—important to the community’s vitality. The study process structure incorporates factual research and shared learning, enabling citizens to find solutions to our regional challenges.

Suggestions for future studies are accepted throughout the year. To be selected, they must meet the following criteria: definition of the issue, appropriateness for the study process, importance to the region, necessity, citizen interest, effectiveness, timeliness and balance of work.

To serve on the 2009 study committee or to submit ideas for future study topics, contact Julie Reese, Community Council Executive Director, 509-540-6720 or or mail your contact information to Community Council, P.O. Box 2936, Walla Walla, WA 99362.

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