What’s Next Midlands is an idea hub that inspires community action.
The program launched in July 2015 after receiving a Connected Communities grant from Central Carolina Community Foundation. What’s Next Midlands allows anyone from our region to share their ideas, big or small, to move our community forward through a crowdsourcing site.
Ideas are then voted on by a group of social investors, and the winning ideas are funded and implemented. A new $100 social investment level launched earlier this month, allowing the investor to have a vote in each project selection.
Social investors create the seed fund that jumpstarts community projects. They are the voice in the selection process that makes an immediate impact on our community.
The first completed project was the moveable seating on Main Street in July, 2016.
A second, large-scale public art initiative to “light up” the riverwalk was selected shortly after and is expected to be completed by August 2017.
For the third project, What’s Next Midlands is working with City of Cayce, DNR and the Congaree Riverkeeper to explore potential access points for kayakers and paddlers on Congaree Creek, an underutilized waterway with tremendous potential.
Because of its popularity, a crowdfunding campaign was recently launched to raise money for a fourth project, Soda City Recycles. The goal of Soda City Recycles is to install 10-12 new, permanent recycling bins that will be maintained and serviced weekly by City of Columbia.
“There is no question that What’s Next Midlands is having an impact around the Midlands,” said Meghan Hickman, Executive Director for EngenuitySC, the economic development nonprofit managing What’s Next Midlands. “With the diversity of projects and the excitement of the voting process, there’s never a dull moment. Community engagement on our website is where the magic starts, and it’s the reason that local municipalities, state agencies and community partners are taking note and getting involved. It’s inspiring to see ideas that represent the best in our communities come to life.”