Community development

Rural community development is a process conducted by community members.  It is a process where local people can not only create more jobs, income and infrastructure, but also help their community become fundamentally better able to manage change.

The “concrete” benefits of community development, such as employment and infrastructure, come through local people changing attitudes, mobilizing existing skills, improving networks, thinking differently about problems, and using community assets in new ways. Community development improves the situation of a community, not just economically, but also as a strong functioning community in itself.

Rural community development builds the five capitals of a community – physical, financial, human, social and environmental. It is through participation in their community that people rethink problems and expand contacts and networks; building social capital. They learn new skills and build human capital. They develop new economic options, building physical and financial capital. They also can improve their environment and make their communities healthier places to live.

 

Connie Mefford, Community Development Specialist, works with various community organizations and individuals.  Connie has worked for the University of Missouri Extension Service for over sixteen years.  She is headquartered in Benton County, but also covers Carroll, Cooper, Moniteau, Morgan, Pettis and Saline Counties.  She has years of experience working with nonprofit organizations, volunteerism and in the area of leadership development.  She has a Bachelor degree in Social Work from the University of Central Missouri and a Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Missouri-Columbia.  She is also a graduate of the Missouri Community Development Academy and the Heartland Economic Development Course. 

Individuals and organizations interested in community capacity building and looking for assistance can contact her at: meffordc@missouri.edu or by calling 660-438-5012 to schedule an appointment and explore the possibilities for tailoring a program specifically for the needs of your group. 

Community development program areas

Nonprofit formation and management

Visioning and action plans

Facilitation and town hall meetings

Regional food systems

GPS training

Community issues management

Community emergency management

Economic Development through Tourism

  • Determining if tourism is right for your community (Community Assessment and Inventory)
  • Hospitality Training
  • Marketing for Tourism
  • Tourism Resources
  • Evaluation

Building Stronger Organization – Board Training

Leadership development

Local government assistance

Community arts

Community development resources

Demographics for Benton County

Issues Management

  • CIM (Community Issues Management) is a web-based Collaborative Management System designed for local and regional organizations to frame, manage and take action on complex issues.  The program also allows organizations to take current data and develop maps and reports helpful in grant applications.  MU Extension Community Development Specialists are trained to use the CIM management system in order to assist communities and organizations in dealing with current complex issues.  CIM Website

Emergency Management

  • Last year Missouri saw flooding, severe winter weather and devastating tornadoes, proving that disaster can strike at any time and in any place. Are you and your family prepared?  MU offers up-to-date information and resources for your family and your community.    Emergency Management Website

Community development frequently asked questions

How do I start a business in Missouri?

The Missouri Small Business and Technology Development Centers provide individualized consultation to new and existing business.  Their website also offers multiple resources for individuals looking to start a new business. 

Starting a business in Missouri:  Top resources

How do I start a nonprofit and get a 501(c)3 status?

MU Extension has a three-part guide that answers these questions and more.

Organizational development for nonprofits

What about a grant and where can I get one?

There is no free lunch, but there are misconceptions.  This factsheet dispels the myths about getting grants. 

The Truth About Grants

Where can I look for grants?

Grants.gov—search for grants from federal agencies

GrantSpace—information and resources for grant seekers

Grant opportunities

North Central SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education) grants

Farmer Rancher grants: for on-farm research, demonstration, and education projects.  No deadline, contact state SARE coordinator

Professional Development grants:  Supports state professional development programs and training for Agriculture professionals. No deadline, contact state SARE coordinator.

Research and Education grants:  For researchers and educators to explore and promote environmentally sound, profitable, and socially responsible food and/or fiber systems.  Pre-proposals typically due mid-June.

Youth and Youth Educator Grants: These are competitive grants for on-farm research, demonstration, or education projects by youth ages 8-18 or for educators to provide programming on sustainable agriculture.

USDA Rural Development offers program assistance by provided direct or guaranteed loans, grants, technical assistance, research and educational materials in the areas of Business and Cooperative Grant Assistance, Housing and Facilities Grant Assistance, and Utility Grants.

RBEG (Rural Business Enterprise Grants):  Funds projects that facilitate the development of small rural businesses, such as business incubators and adult education programs. 

Local organizations

The counties on both sides of the Missouri River in West Central Missouri form an area rich in history, cultural heritage and agricultural bounty.  The Old Trails Regional Tourism Partnership has been formed to preserve and share the region's unique assets and values, encourage entrepreneurial investment and build regional identity and pride.

Whether you are in the area for a weekend getaway or a day trip with the family, the Old Trails Region has something to offer everyone.  From historic sites to fresh produce, the area is rich in culture and personality. The Old Trails Region covers over 100 miles of businesses, farmland, events, and entertainment through the heart of Missouri.

Warsaw Chamber of Commerce

City of Warsaw

Benton County Community Foundation

Benton County Development Corporation