By WANDA MOELLER
---- — OTTUMWA — Collectively, the Ottumwa Regional Legacy Foundation has been partnering with the local community to provide positive community initiatives.
That’s the message delivered by Legacy Foundation President Brad Little during a work session with the Ottumwa City Council on Monday night. Little spoke for more than an hour about the foundation’s successes during its three-year and three-month existence.
“Our role is act as catalyst for positive change,” said Little. “We don’t want to become just a checkbook for the community.”
Instead, the Legacy Foundation is committed to the well-being of the community by partnering with entities. It’s goal is clarified in its mission statement that it will “help Ottumwa be a prosperous, growing and thriving community.”
During the course of the hour-long work session, Little described how the Legacy Foundation will help with the process by focusing on five key areas. Those areas include jobs, education, revitalization, infrastructure/housing and leadership.
“How can we attract, create and retain good-paying jobs?” asked Little. The solution is supporting the local Ottumwa Economic Development Commission, learning from other communities and exploring the potential of a venture capital fund.
In the area of education, he noted the foundation’s work to help provide a first-class education and training opportunities. Ways in which that can be obtained are by exploring tech zone concepts and a tech coach, scholarship and mentor programs and parent engagement strategies.
Revitalization is perhaps the most visual part of the Legacy Foundation as it helps to make Ottumwa and the surrounding areas a great place to live and work. Ways in which to accomplish this has been reclaiming Main Street, creating a Riverfront Renaissance, extending Central Park to the river, and exploring a sports campus that would become an economic engine for the community.
Partnering with the city with infrastructure projects to meet the needs of the 21st century is also a key area the foundation has been helping Ottumwa become more attractive.
In the area of leadership, the foundation launched the Leadership Academy to help train future leaders in the community to promote positive change. The first class graduated in September 2012. The second class is now halfway through the year.
As of September 2011, Little said the foundation has given $5.5 million back to the community, and all the investments have been good.
After listening to the presentation, Councilman Skip Stevens commended Little for the foundation’s commitment to the community. “I sit here and think, ‘Where would be without the Legacy Foundation?’”