Many forward‐thinking communities around the nation have undertaken community visioning efforts to align stakeholder efforts to better address these issues in a collaborative and meaningful fashion. In the past, the only community‐wide plan addressing several of these areas was undertaken by the Unified Government.
This has consistently fallen short of effectively addressing these larger issues, because the Unified Government is only one of many vital stakeholders working in the community. There is clearly the need for a common understanding, a common vision, and an alignment of strategies. Another key point is that public engagement in past planning efforts generally involved citizens focused on a single area or topic, with few citizens engaged in understanding the broader context and providing corresponding input.
The Athens‐Clarke County community is poised to undertake a visionary, ambitious, and multi‐layered strategic planning process intended to be the focal point of community discussions for at least the next decade and spur transformational community change.
Key institutional partners are convening and collaborating in this process, including the Unified Government of Athens‐Clarke County, Athens Area Chamber of Commerce, Clarke County School District, United Way of Northeast Georgia in Athens, University of Georgia, Athens Housing Authority, the City of Winterville, Georgia Power, Athens Technical College, Piedmont Athens Regional, and St. Mary’s Hospital. This group is engaging a third‐party national expert to facilitate the community and economic development strategy process. The 38-member Steering Group includes diverse citizens from across the Athens‐Clarke County community for a balanced foundation.
The process began in October 2016 and is expected to take approximately 12 months to develop a vision that will result in thorough research, recommendations, and implementation guidelines. The resulting CED strategy and commitment of the partners will form the foundation for a sustained, collective and collaborative effort to positively shape the future of Athens in ensuing years.
Learn more at envisionathens.com.