Archived Story

1,000 ‘big’ ideas and counting

Published 11:54am Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Community celebration offers food, entertainment and chance to share

Vision 2020 hit its 1,000-idea milestone, but that won’t stop the group from throwing a party.

Austin city officials and business leaders are set for “A Big Night of Ideas,” which takes place 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Holiday Inn. While the community betterment project’s goal was to accept more than 1,000 ideas by Oct. 14, the group is hoping for a huge turnout Wednesday, with entertainment and free food provided by Hy-Vee, Hormel Foods and the Holiday Inn.

“We’re hoping it’s standing room only,” said Jeff Thatcher of Austin Packaging and a Vision 2020 steering committee chair. “We’re hoping to get a diverse age group and hoping a diverse audience will give us a lot of different ideas.”

The idea for Vision 2020 stems from a meeting with city officials of Dubuque, Iowa, in February. Austinites learned how Dubuque went from having the highest unemployment rate in its county to being named the best small city to raise a family by Forbes Magazine and was ranked seventh in the country for job growth by, all in a little more than a decade.

Vision 2020 hopes to mirror that success with significant community input, which starts with a brainstorming celebration.

“A Night of Big Ideas is a continuation of the whole Vision 2020 project,” said Geoff Baker of McFarland Truck Lines, Inc., and the Vision 2020 events committee chair. “We’re hoping to continue to generate as many good ideas as we can. We hope to do a little community celebration as well, and move forward with what we think is a pretty exciting project.”

Once all the ideas are collected, a committee will narrow the ideas to the top 100. The community will then vote to narrow the list to 30.

Next, the committee takes over again, finalizing the top 10 ideas by March 1, 2012. From there, the group will begin working to make the ideas a reality by 2020.

Baker said the entire community is encouraged to attend the free event.

“We would encourage anyone who is interested in making Austin a better place to live to come,” Baker said. “If you want to make Austin a better place, bring those ideas that you think will do that, and that’s all you need to attend.”

More information is available at


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