MANSFIELD — Develop Tioga, formerly the Tioga County Development Corporation, honored six people at the 24th annual awards ceremony held Thursday, Oct. 24 at the Mansfield Fire Hall.
At the first dinner held by the group since it was re-named and re-structured last year, three individuals and a couple were honored as changemakers, including Jason Gehman of PRSM Healthcare; Dawn Avery of Penn Oak Realty; Johnny and Juanita Berguson of Kingdom Inc., and Kristin Hamilton, executive director of Develop Tioga.
New to the event this year, the changemakers were chosen based on nominations received by the board and administration of Develop Tioga.
“Economic prosperity in our small towns is the result of combining vision with hard work. Many individuals, organizations and businesses in our communities are doing just that and creating momentum around innovative ideas,” according to a description of why the four were chosen.
Shane Nickerson, mayor of Blossburg, was awarded the Rod C. Kelchner Leadership Award and Alan Quimby, president of the Develop Tioga board of directors, received the David W. Rundell Director’s Award.
Quimby said Hamilton “dove right in, making changes left and right,” after she was hired as executive director.
Hamilton said Quimby’s “devotion and successful service to Tioga County” earned him the Rundell award.
She spoke about the success of the economic summits held this year, noting that “people keep coming back together, despite their personalities, skills or conflicts.”
“Their resiliency and determination to hang in there is there and they work through things,” she said.
The approximately 150 attendees were treated to a meal prepared by the Wellsboro Area High School senior culinary class.
Speaker Spud Marshall, founder of New Leaf Initiative in State College which specializes in building connections between the university, local government and the community, said he hoped to get attendees to “start looking at economic development from the ground up perspective.”
“My goal for the evening is to get you up and moving and to exchange your collaboration and creative ideas,” he said.
Marshall said he hoped to get people to think of their communities as a “blank canvas” and to “think about moving into the role of an artist.”
“How can we invite folks to engage in the community?” he asked.
Marshall said, in his experience, communities can be divided into three types: naturally innovative, status quo and overlooked.
“The smaller overlooked communities are so ripe to do creative, innovative things,” he said.
One of the exercises attendees participated in was to collaborate on solutions using sticky notes that were put on the walls next to various topics for the area such as crime, trash, communication, etc.