Troup County Prepares for the Future
To explore how best to leverage the growth coming to West Georgia, leaders from Troup County and the cities of LaGrange, West Point and Hogansville recently kicked off a two-year planning initiative designed to set the course for a sustainable future.
The goal of the effort is to identify innovative strategies for maintaining balanced and quality growth, fostering healthy economic development, enhancing the quality of life and protecting Troup County's community environment.
"The region is entering an unprecedented period of growth and transformation. I am optimistic that this work will provide a planning framework for the region, based on sensitivity and connectiveness," said Richard C. Wolfe, chairman of the Troup County Board of Commissioners. "Done well, this could be the most important process in which we have ever participated."
Troup County leaders will develop strategies to help shape the future and further enhance the community's great places for area residents and businesses. These strategies will be designed in accordance with Troup's community vision and will be implemented over the next five years. The Georgia Institute of Technology will assist the county and cities in this effort.
As an initial step in the strategic planning process, one-on-one interviews will be conducted with a wide range of community stakeholders to gather input on creating a cohesive community vision and insights on relevant issues related to the community's current and future growth and development.
"With the growth and changes we are anticipating in our community, it is critical we have a plan that will guide our future decisions in a thoughtful and strategic way," noted Jeff Lukken, mayor of LaGrange. "I am also gratified that Troup County, as well as the Cities of West Point and Hogansville are also engaged in this process. With all of our local governments participating we will improve communication and end up with a more comprehensive and usable plan for all of us."
This effort will also include a number of assessments to develop strategies that can best enable Troup County to leverage the opportunities associated with its ideal location in West Georgia - while not compromising its community vision. Strategies that offer the greatest opportunity for improving the prosperity of community residents will be identified.
What is unique about this endeavor is that it reflects countywide collaboration, with leaders in Troup County and all three of its cities agreeing that only together can the best possible plan for moving forward be both created and implemented.
"We are anticipating a considerable amount of growth which will provide our citizens with the quality of life that they deserve. We know that growth just for the sake of growing is not the right thing to do," said Billy H. Head, mayor of West Point. "Our goal is to provide good quality growth and we will settle for nothing less. We feel that participating in this strategic plan will help us reach our goal as a city. It will also provide an opportunity for all government entities within Troup County to establish good working relationships."
Jimmy Jackson, mayor of Hogansville, agrees that the goal is to promote quality growth: "If we ever hope to balance good growth in the municipalities while keeping the other areas of Troup County more rural, we must act soon. And we need this road map, this plan, before we can act," he said. "If we don't have it, we could become just another mess like so many high growth areas. But if we do, all parts of the county can prosper."
Other Georgia communities have seen the benefits of such a forward-thinking approach. In 2005, Georgia Tech and its partners worked to help Barrow County's leaders develop a strategic plan focused on economic development and quality growth principles.
"The report provided a comprehensive assessment of our county, which gave us the avenue to proceed," said Carolyn Delamont, who was president of the Barrow County Chamber of Commerce during the planning effort. "The community is focused, working together and thinking positively."
By kicking off this two-year effort in Troup County, leaders have decided to be proactive about directing the community's future growth and development. The first year of the community's efforts will be focused on strategy development. The second year of this effort - focused on project development and implementation - is designed to help community leaders make plan implementation an essential component of their everyday work.
Technical Contacts: Mike Dobbs, Troup County Board of Commissioners (706-883-1610) or (firstname.lastname@example.org); Tom Hall, City of LaGrange (706-883-2010) or (email@example.com); Sammy Osborne, City of West Point (706-645-3534) or (SOsborne@CityOfWestPointGA.com); Bill Stankiewicz, City of Hogansville (706-637-8629) or (firstname.lastname@example.org); Joy Wilkins, Georgia Tech (404-895-6115) or (email@example.com); and Karen Leone de Nie, Georgia Tech (404-385-5125) or (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Writer: Nancy Fulbright, Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute