RIO GRANDE — After nearly a year of work on a strategic plan for Gallia County, the Gallia County Strategic Planning Committee will be presenting their findings to the community during an event on May 14 at the University of Rio Grande.
According to Gallia County Economic Development Director Melissa Clark, the strategic plan outlines county development in four areas: economic development, building county capacity, Gallipolis City development and transportation and infrastructure. Within each category, the planning committee has developed various projects and programs, all with a goal of implementation in three to five years.
Clark reported that work on the strategic plan — which outlines the planning committee’s aspirations to “grow Gallia” — began in May 2011 and, over the course of the year, has included the input of over 40 individuals, including not only elected officials, business owners and education leaders, but also individuals from within the community concerned about the future of Gallia County.
“The plan took longer than we an initially anticipated. I never dreamed it would take a year to do, but I think it was well worth it, it was well thought out and everybody had input on the projects,” Clark commented while praising the individuals who dedicated their time to the project. “I can’t stress enough the appreciation of the people just volunteering their time and coming to these meetings. They would come to the meetings, and religiously. That’s how important this was to them, and that means a lot.”
The vision statement for the strategic plan is: “Gallia County is a thriving and socially engaged river community, promoting its strengths in health care, education, and infrastructure, to lead the region in industry growth, business opportunities, and the recreational and cultural enrichment of its citizens, while preserving its agricultural and historical heritage” and outlines the overarching inspiration behind the goals of the committee.
Among these goals, according to Clark, is the establishment of a “buy local campaign” that her office hopes to spearhead in the near future.
“We want to develop a program, a campaign, a marketing strategy to educate businesses and people who live in Gallia County [about] the importance of buying local first,” Clark said. “The campaign is really saying, ‘can I get this in Gallia County first?’ and just the importance of that.”
In addition to the buy local campaign, some of the larger topics that will be discussed during the event on May 14 will be the expansion of residential broadband service, the development of the downtown Gallipolis area, development of the Ohio riverfront, infrastructure and road development, and business attraction and marketing strategies for Gallia County.
Clark further emphasized the importance of the community becoming involved in the strategic plan for Gallia County and encouraged everyone to attend the kick-off event.
“We want everyone to come, and we are going to talk about the process, how this isn’t Gallia County Economic Development’s plan, this is not the commissioners plan, or the city’s plan — this is the community. It is the community’s plan that was put together for the community,” Clark said. “Everybody has a stake in getting the projects done. It isn’t any one office or entity’s job to get all the projects done, it is the community’s.”
The “Grow Gallia” strategic plan kick-off event will begin at 6 p.m. on Monday, May 14 in the Bob Evans Farms Hall auditorium on the University of Rio Grande campus, and Clark encouraged anyone who would want to get involved in the growth of their community through the strategic plan to contact her directly at (740) 446-4612, ext. 271 or at email@example.com.
“We want the community to come and hear what the projects are and, maybe, there is something that they want to get involved in. By all means, they should contact me, and I’ll get them with the committee, the group or the individual to help work on that project.”
Further information on the strategic plan and economic development in Gallia County can be found on the Gallia County Economic Development and the Gallia County strategic plan Facebook pages.