You’ve been meaning to set aside brainstorming time for some topical story ideas, but deadline’s always looming and you haven’t been able to find any spare minutes.

Not to worry, as part of the GateHouse Professional Development Series, Jean Hodges and I recently ran through 50 ideas in 50 minutes. (Full disclosure, the concept was pulled from an Iowa Newspaper Association presentation that Zack Kucharski of the Cedar Rapids Gazette and Nancy Newhoff of the Waterloo Courier put together.)

Here are four of the ideas we discussed during the presentation:

How many festivals do you have, and who’s paying for them?

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Festivals bring tourists, or so says every local development agency. And while the quality of life in your community is certainly better because of these festivals, are you getting enough bang for your buck?

The Panama City News Herald did a great job digging into the contributions of the city’s tourist development council in this piece, showing how much they spent for each event.

This brings us to your community — have you ever taken inventory of all the festivals in town? If so, have you kept attendance figures, photos and financials of each? And if so, can you compile a season wrap-up, complete with year-over-year gains or losses?

Also, while your municipality might spend more to bring bigger name acts or events to town, how do local businesses feel about the increased traffic? Has it helped?

Is urgent care better?

Screen Shot 2017-02-10 at 2.55.43 PMUrgent care centers are popping up everywhere. What do local hospitals/doctors think? Is the care good? Does insurance cover it?

Wicked Local in Massachusetts reported on the phenomenon here, explaining that the Urgent Care Association of America estimates there are 9,300 such clinics nationally, with roughly 1,300 of them opening since 2008.

What do you have locally? How many urgent care centers, and how are the trending?

Real estate: Are millennials buying, and selling?

It’s a known factor millennials buying homes is a good sign of a community’s health. And the Freeport (Illinois) Journal-Standard recently wrote that millennials across the nation are purchasing 35 percent of the homes sold, up from 28 percent in 2012, according to the National Association of Realtors.

But here’s an interesting tidbit — many experts are saying that getting more millennial agents is also important because they help woo younger buyers in.

Are you seeing this in your community? What are the trends in your area?

What produce is in season locally?

The Wilmington (North Carolina) StarNews is really plugged. They’re constantly hitting topics that resonate with readers throughout their region — you can expect a centerpiece story about nearby beaches or something oceanic at least once a month.

This package included a short story, keeping tabs on when locally grown produce is available locally, but the package also included two great digital components — a quiz and the following graphic that shows when every fruit and vegetable is typically available. Couldn’t everyone use something similar, if only to know what to shop for when heading to the market?

Here’s the graphic:

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