Streams of grant funding such as broadband support, the infrastructure bill, FEMA disaster prevention, and business attraction often come in large waves and encourage rural communities to improve local capacity and infrastructure. When generating ideas, planning, and creating strategies and action plans to apply for a grant, it is key to conduct a feasibility analysis. Take the time to evaluate if the local community has the resources, time, and inputs needed to take on the project as well as the resources and capacity to sustain the effort.
The overarching goal of a feasibility analysis is to understand “is this a viable idea to proceed with” (1). Feasibility studies often include market analysis, technical analysis, financial analysis, as well as environmental and social impacts (1,2,3,4). Results should help the community understand if the effort balances the financial, social, and environmental costs with the benefits (3). The analysis should focus on both the feasibility of implementing or building the effort as well as maintaining it. Many communities skip the assessment of maintenance, and when programs fail or fizzle, infrastructure degrades or incurs deferred maintenance costs.
While some feel feasibility analysis can discourage a community from dreaming big, leaders should “know what they have to work with” (4) and focus on developing aspects in the community that can succeed. If projects or programs are not feasible, the community can prioritize a different effort or focus on building the capacity and partnerships needed to address feasibility concerns.