A group of government and private sector representatives met to discuss the direction of our community. Many agreed that:
- As a community we had difficulty focusing and reaching consensus on priorities.
- A visioning project would make sense for our community based on this group's experiences in past visioning projects in other locations.
- Subsequent meetings among elected officials, city and county staff, Topeka Chamber of Commerce and GO Topeka representatives, and the Topeka Community Foundation determined that the Topeka Community Foundation was the best organization to start the visioning project.
- The Topeka Community Foundation began fundraising and was successful in acquiring $700,000 in pledges and in-kind donations to invest in our community visioning project.
- Selection process began for a vision planning contractor.
- Consultant Henry Luke, Luke Planning, Inc., was hired to facilitate the visioning project in March.
- A local staff--an executive director, William Beteta and an administrative assistant--was hired in April.
- A public meeting was held in April to announce the “Heartland Visioning” project for Shawnee County and Topeka.
- A diverse 40-member Steering Committee, representative of the community, was selected to guide the process.
- Henry Luke and the Heartland Visioning staff interviewed over 200 individuals in Focus Groups during May and June.
- Over 600 people attended Community Meetings June 16, 17, and 19. The results from 24 breakout groups identified 759 unique issues for the Vision Task Force to consider. Issues were summarized and ranked by groups, then combined to produce the top 10 priority issues.
- The Steering Committee selected a diverse Vision Task Force from all sectors and geographic areas of Shawnee County. Task Force members were selected from Focus Group interviewees, self-nomination, and individuals selected by members of the 24 breakout groups at the Community Meetings.
- In July, the 196-member Vision Task Force created the draft of the Strategic Plan, using their knowledge, experience, and public input to create the draft Strategic Plan.
- At a joint Steering Committee meeting August 21 the draft vision plan was edited down to 140 strategies.
- The draft plan was then distributed from August 25 through October 28 for public input and comments.
- Incorporating input received, the Steering Committee approved the revised Strategic Plan and released the Heartland Visioning Strategic Plan November 19.
- Implementation began in earnest January 29 with a meeting among people serving on Foundation Teams.
- The Solid Waste Management Committee, part of the Infrastructure Foundation Team, met about recycling programs in Shawnee County.
- NaviGate, a new resource for Shawnee County entrepreneurs, was opened March 24. Located at 120 SE 6th, next door to the Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce, NaviGate provides a complete and focused support system to emerging businesses in our area with confidential consultation services, mentoring and educational opportunities that are either free or available for a minimal fee. NaviGate partners include GO Topeka, Disadvantaged Business Enterprise, Washburn University Kansas Small Business Development Center (SBDC), and SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives).
- Community Image Strategic Alliance conducted a public meeting June 18 to brainstorm ideas about Topeka/Shawnee County’s image.
- ArtsConnect, Chords & Oil, Topeka Metropolitan Transit Authority, Heartland Visioning and Heartland Healthy Neighborhoods--alliances of the Quality of Life Foundation Team--announced on July 9 an Art in Transit program, replacing glass in bus shelters with “Metropolitan Murals.”
- In an August 16 ceremony announcing construction of their facility and subsequent move to Downtown Topeka, local US Bank executives Wendy Wells and Becky Holmquist said the plans help meet one of the goals of the Heartland Visioning Strategic Plan--revitalizing Downtown Topeka.
- Heartland Healthy Neighborhoods, an alliance of the Quality of Life Foundation Team, announced Complete Streets August 30, a campaign to raise $15,000 for sidewalks and bikeway needs to match $60,000 in federal money to pay for the study.
- Education Foundation Team held a public forum September 26, which among other items, announced the Work Keys program.
- Heartland Visioning presented the 2009 Report to the Community at a public meeting November 18, to mark the first anniversary of the Heartland Visioning Strategic Plan.
- Shawnee County Commissioners and Topeka City Council voted to make themselves Vision Partners.
- Kansas Department of Transportation, City of Topeka and Metropolitan Topeka Planning Organization began Phase-I of the Polk-Quincy Viaduct Study.
- Focus groups met December 19 about transformation of the United Way to support goals and objectives of the Heartland Visioning Strategic Plan.
- To reach more members of the community, The Heartland Visioning 2009 Report to the Community was distributed as an insert in the Sunday Topeka Capital-Journal. Click here to download.
- Community volunteers came together to form the Capital District Project (CDP) to represent the continued effort to revitalize Downtown Topeka.
- In February, CDP invited the community to discuss the revitalization of Downtown Topeka and gauge support of the project. Over 500 community members attended the meeting to discuss revitalization efforts.
- In the fall, CDP held charrettes to bring the community back together to discuss goals and ideas for the potential of Topeka’s downtown. Ideas discussed at the charrettes influenced the CDP to organize three workshops with nationally-known experts about downtown revitalizations and from those developed a concept for revitalizing downtown Topeka. The concept was presented to the City Council and the CDP received $5 million to use for revitalization efforts in Downtown Topeka.
- Barbara Waterman-Peters became the first artist to purchase a studio space in the North Topeka Arts District (NOTO), Studio 831.
- The NOTO board creates strategic alliances with Washburn University and Topeka Public Schools to provide
- Think Big Topeka began a grassroots movement that unified the community around a central goal for Topeka to become a test-site for Google’s high-speed fiber network.
- In March, Mayor Bill Bunten proclaimed that Topeka would change its name for one month to “Google, Kansas” to show that our community was dedicated to becoming a test-site for Google Fiber.
- On April 1, Google changed their name to “Topeka.”
- The Joint Economic Development Organization (JEDO) with Go Topeka, voted to offer land and cash incentives to Allen Foods for building a manufacturing operation in Topeka. Allen Foods inested $30 million in the expansion that will benefit our community.
- Heartland Healthy Neighborhoods held its inaugural Shawnee County Largest work out in July with more than 500 participants.
- The second Candidate School for community members interested in running for public office was held in August 2010. This was an opportunity for community members to learn about different aspects of running for office including: election time frame and laws governing candidates and filing appropriate paperwork and financial records.
- Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce traveled to Oklahoma City, OK for its 2010 inner city visit. Prior to visiting OKC, the Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce hosted an inner city visit with guests from Jefferson City, MO.
- Heartland Visioning won 2010 Nonprofit of the year award from the first Community Resource Council Awards of Excellence. Heartland Visioning won for creating a collaborative community process that includes people in the decision-making process of developing a vision and direction for the future of Topeka. Full Story.
- Washburn University Leadership Institute announced in November it had developed a one of a kind Leadership Challenge Event that would be held in 2011.
- Work continued on the Kansas Children’s Discovery center as they prepared to open in summer of 2011.
- Shawnee County was selected as one of three communities nationally to participate in an initiative from the National Center on Children in Poverty: "Pathways to Early School Success: Building State and Local Capacity, from Columbia University"
- Revenue from the half-cent sales tax completed infrastructure work throughout Topeka, including 5,700 work orders, about 20,000 filled potholes, and eight completed road projects totaling 12.37 miles of road.
- Heartland Visioning released the 2010 community report. Click here to download.
- With a new year, Heartland Visioning launched a brand new interactive website donated by MB Piland & Umbrella.
- The Shawnee County Health Agency, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, and the Heartland Healthy Neighborhoods work together to get a three-year federal grant for $1,236,000 from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for reducing the sodium intake of Shawnee County residents.
- Innergovernmental Cooperation Council recreated their bylaws.
- Bill Moore, former CEO of Westar Energy stepped down in May as a Heartland Visioning co-chair. Harry Craig, CEO of the Craig Group, Inc. replaced Moore.
- In June, MARS, Inc. decided to build their first North American Plant in Topeka!
- On June 1, 2011 the Kansas Children's Discovery Center held it's grand opening, within four days of opening had 1,500 visitors.
- Area Development Magazine awards Kansas a Silver Shovel Award in states with populations of fewer than four million for the Allen Foods/Bimbo Bakeries USA project.
- Washburn Tech. hosted its first week long summer camp aimed to educate middle school students about different trades and careers.
- The City of Topeka contracted RDG Planning and Design in conjunction with their Topeka Based Partners: Cook, Flatt & Stroble, HTK Architects and Lattimer, Sommers & Associates to develop conceptual plans for downtown Topeka through the Capital District Project.
- Through community volunteers and downtown businesses, CDP began their "Do it Downtown" marketing campaign.
- The Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce and community leaders visited Greenville, South Carolina for the innercity visit.
- After one year, NOTO arts district expanded with 11 new storefronts and 30 artists occupying studio space.
- In December, Gina Millsap, executive director of the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library, replaced Dr. Jerry Farley as the other Heartland Visioning co-chair.
- Topeka and Shawnee County parks and recreation departments merged, while retaining a majority of employees. The council and commission approved the merger in August 2011 and it took effect in January 2012.
- In January, the Downtown Design Center opened its door to allow community members to share their ideas for downtown Topeka. The Center was located at 728 S. Kansas Avenue. The design team hosted multiple open houses and held open office hours on the avenue.
- As of January, the First Friday Artwalk has over 40 galleries, shops and businesses participating in the First Friday events each month. Venues span across the city. For a complete list of stops, visit www.artsconnect.com.
- Topeka celebrated Kansas’s 151st Birthday
- The Shawnee County Commission approved curbside recycling and plans to start running in 2013.
- Topeka City Council passed the Capital Improvements Program's budget at a March council meeting, after seven people spoke in support of the Revitalize Downtown program. Nearly 200 citizens attended to meeting. The vote signified the funds for the Capital District Project were approved for one more year.
- National Endowment for the Arts chairman, Rocco Landesman, visited NOTO in March to discuss creative placemaking and view the program’s progress.
- Nearly 350 young professionals from across the state attended the 3rd YP Summit in Topeka.
- Topeka City Council approved the Project Budget for Topeka's Complete Streets Program.
- In May, the South Kansas Avenue Conceptual Plan was completed and the Design Team presented the conceptual plan to city council.
- In May 2012, Topeka Zoo opened the Penguin Plunge Exhibit for visitors. It increased zoo attendance significantly while open.
- Topeka365.com , an all inclusive community event calendar, launched for public use on May 15. Click here to read more about it.
- The Kansas Children’s Discovery Center celebrated its first birthday on June 1.
- In June, NOTO Arts District announced the donation of the former post office building in NOTO, 935 N. Kansas Ave., for the use of the district.
- Kansas Leadership Center hosted Your Leadership Edge in Topeka in June. A total of 31 people completed the program.
- On July 18, Washburn Board of Regents approved funding proposal for a $40 million school of law to be constructed on the corner of 21st St. and Washburn Ave. The current building is 96,000 square feet, whereas the new building is proposed to be 152,600 square feet.
- Thedailybeast.com, the online home of Newsweek Magazine, voted Topeka 14th best city in the United States to buy a home. View the slideshow here.
- The Kansas Children’s Discovery Center surpassed 100,000 visitors on July 24.
- In July, Jim Colson was selected by the Topeka City Council to serve as the second permanent city manager for Topeka. His contract began August 27.
- On August 5, NOTO was featured in the Sunday edition of the New York Times for its recent growth.
- Shawnee County Konza Club, a group of Kansas Leadership Center Alumni, met for the first time in September.
- Kansas Children’s Discovery Center had a special visitor from Delaware, and now has had visitors from all 50 states!
- Safe Streets Coalition beautified utility boxes around town. As of September 17, four boxes had been started, including a completed box at Huntoon Ave. and Gage Boulevard and another completed box at 29th St. and California Ave. When the project is finished, there will be 20 utility boxes that serve dual purposes: utilities and public art.
- The first ever Capital City Restaurant Week took place in September, with 10 percent of proceeds supporting Harvester’s. Local and corporate restaurants were involved.