Let's Meet Downtown and Talk Resiliency and Revitalization


Resiliency Academy, a partnership between NH SBDC and UNH Cooperative Extension, begins May 25 with a virtual educational session, continues June 1 with the opportunity for business to start or update their resiliency plans in real time, and culminates in early June with community visits.

You often hear that Extension staff are “in the field.” In community and economic development our “field” is usually a small main street, downtown, business district or city center. This is where we do our place-based education. We bring together community leaders and volunteers from New Hampshire cities and towns to explore the built environment and meet with local businesses. We hear from municipal officials on redeveloping buildings, enhancing public spaces, and incorporating the natural environment, the arts, history, and culture to deepen a sense of community. As we walk through a downtown and meet with people we get a sense of place and how change is happening. We have found business owners to be incredibly open about their experiences to grow and thrive. Main Street becomes our classroom for sharing and networking with others from around the state.

Resiliency Academy, a partnership with NH SBDC and UNH Cooperative Extension, is hitting the road in June. There is no better way to learn about community and business resilience then to visit the places and businesses actively engaged in community vibrancy and revitalization. We will visit Littleton, Somersworth, and Keene thinking about resilience as more than bouncing back from a threat but as going forward for a better, different outcome. We will see examples in each community of adapting, innovating, transforming, connecting, and including – all key factors in resiliency. We will hear stories of how the pandemic propelled small business and community leaders into innovation and adaptation and we will hear about their challenges and successes.

In each community we will ask – how does our community stay engaged in ongoing revitalization? What is innovative in your approach and how are you including everyone from your community? Inclusion is a key component in resiliency. NH SBDC’s Inclusivity Project is active in the communities we will explore, so there is an opportunity to learn how this impacts small businesses and community. An inclusive approach fosters a sense of shared ownership and a joint vision for resilience for the future. In Somersworth we will hear about mix use projects and efforts to address vacancies and learn more about inclusion at the Indonesian Cultural Center. In Littleton we will hear about North Country Council’s regional resiliency work and begin our tour at the Opera House to hear about the role of the arts. Our visit to Keene will take us past the Walldog Murals and through their exploration of connecting their downtown to trails. There is still time to register and join us in Somersworth, Keene, and Littleton. There will be remarkable stories to hear and lessons to learn along the way.

Interesting reading on resilience: The Rockefeller Foundation offers a Resilience Framework with a focus on “enhancing the performance of a system”. They share seven qualities of resilient systems: reflective, robust, redundant, flexibility, resourceful, integrated, and inclusive.

The Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development at Penn State share seven common strategies of resilience in Promoting economic resilience in Appalachia: Lessons from successful communities.

Author(s)

Molly Donovan
Community Economic Development State Specialist
Assoc State Specialist
Phone: (603) 862-5046
Office: Cooperative Extension, Nesmith Hall Rm 204C, Durham, NH 03824