PITTSBURG — The Southeast Kansas Community Action Program invited Crawford County residents to help define the greatest needs of this area at a community discussion Friday.

For the past month, SEK-CAP has been working to update its Community Needs Assessment, which outlines the highest level needs for the 12-county area SEK-CAP covers. The assessment is updated each year, and used to provide data to state legislators.

“Data from our report can help someone on the House floor frame the story about what southeast Kansas needs,” SEK-CAP Director Dick Horton said. “We can frame Crawford County’s need for housing with data about the average age of homes in the area.”

Community discussions like Friday’s help SEK-CAP prioritize what areas to collect data on.

“That’s why we do this assessment,” Horton said. “We don’t want to tell our story, we want to tell your story.”

SEK-CAP began work on updating the assessment by speaking with over 50 groups in government, community and faith sectors. Members of each of these groups throughout southeast Kansas were asked to identify high-priority issues their area faces.

Area groups identified housing, infrastructure, workforce readiness, regional communication, health and transportation as the main areas of need. SEK-CAP is now hosting community discussions in each county to prioritize and gain insight into these areas.

At the Pittsburg discussion, infrastructure was identified as the number one need. Attendees said infrastructure was the foundation to help develop many of the other areas of need. They identified high-speed internet, good roads and access to modern technology as factors that draw in businesses, help education and make people want to live in a city.

SEK-CAP will continue community meetings over the next two weeks before compiling the information into an updated assessment.

The current Community Needs Assessment and more information about SEK-CAP can be found at www.sek-cap.com.

— Chance Hoener is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. He can be emailed at choener@morningsun.net or follow him on Twitter @ReporterChance.