DADC: Strategic Plan aimed at planning for growth

Liz Marino/Douglas County Sentinel Gary Miller, president and chief executive officer of GreyStone Power Corporation and Ana-Elis Perry, general manager of Grifols Plasma Operations -- both members of the Development Authority of Douglas County board of directors -- are serving as co-chairs of the Community & Economic Development Strategic Plan steering committee.

No doubt about it: growth is coming to Douglas County. How the growth will be managed is the big question.

Chris Pumphrey, executive director of the Development Authority of Douglas County, reiterated this fact last week, along with the two co-chairs of a county-wide strategic planning committee, as they rolled out a plan on how to engage the community and work toward managing and capitalizing on this growth.

According to the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC), Douglas County will be one of the fastest growth areas in the region.

A diverse group of community leaders have been working behind the scenes since August of 2016 to lay the ground work for Community and Economic Development Strategic Plan for the next five years.

“We’ve got the two development authorities working together,” said Pumphrey, “on how we want to see the community have a successful economic system. We want to see the community come together and be sustainable.”

A unified vision

In an effort to plan and shape what the future looks like, the consortium of stakeholders from across Douglas County have come together to develop a unified vision and direction for the county that results in greater economic vitality and prosperity for its residents.

“What are we doing to attract future generations,” Pumphrey asked. “Creating policies that engage development that meet their demands.”

Part of the plan is cultivating talent through workforce development and taking a look at the talent leaving the county.

This consortium — which has worked with the Development Authority of Douglas County, represents economic developers, educators, elected officials, business leaders from the community — has been looking for ways to establish a unified vision and direction for Douglas County that results in “greater economic vitality and prosperity to its residents,” according to the plan summary.

During the course of the study, Avalanche Consulting, an economic development strategist, was hired and has sought community input from a focus group of 150 interview participants and 1,120 community survey participants, along with a series of four steering committee meetings between 40 community and business leaders.

A number of funding partners, including the city of Douglasville, the Douglasville Convention and Visitors Bureau, HRC Engineering, the Douglas County Chamber, Foxhall Resort and Sporting Club, Servis 1st Bank, the Douglas County Government, Georgia Power, WellStar, the Douglasville-Douglas County Water and Sewer Authority, GreyStone Power Corporation and HR&F have thrown their financial support into the strategic plan.

“The development authority did not want to do this alone,” said Pumphrey. “We were wanting to get community partners so everyone has an equal stake.”

Pumphrey said that once they completed the process, the time came to determine how they were going to implement the strategy.

The strategic plan team is headed up by co-chairs Gary Miller, president and CEO of GreyStone Power Corporation and Ana-Elis Perry, general manager of Grifols Plasma Operations. Each sit on the board of directors of the Development Authority of Douglas County, where Miller is treasurer.

Four pillars of strategic plan

Douglas County’s Community and Economic Development Strategic Plan has four foundational pillars: Celebrate the Community, chaired by Kali Boatright, president and CEO of the Douglas County Chamber; Invest with Intention, chaired by Gil Shearouse, executive director of the Douglasville-Douglas County WSA; Cultivate Talent, chaired by Trent North, Douglas County Schools Superintendent; and Build Business Success, Chris Pumphey, executive director, Development Authority of Douglas County.

“The pillars were put out for a purpose,” said co-chair Miller, “and a critical component is Celebrate the Community. How we communicate and how often we communicate is critical.”

He said they are breaking down the four pillars and will target projects for each year. The first pillar addressed will involve branding and marketing. Once a project is completed, the next project will begin.

Implementing a new brand identity, according to the plan, will allow the community to proactively tell Douglas County’s story and generate pride in the community

Community focus group members sought

To that end, Douglas UnitE3: Envision-Engage-Energize will embark on an important initiative to better understand and improve the community’s image and competitiveness.

Douglas UniteE3 has hired Development Counselors International (DCI), a specialized place-marketing agency to develop a new brand and marketing strategy to attract jobs and investments as well as new residents and a skilled workforce to the area.

On Jan. 18-19, DCI will conduct eight individual focus groups for resident input that will inform the development of the brand and strategy to leverage community strengths and help address specific challenges.

“We will have emersion workshops to reach out to target audiences to validate if we’re on track to brand Douglas County,” Pumphrey said. “DCI will help guide this and the marketing and communications will be shared.”

Community residents who fall in the specific groups listed should contact the Douglas County Chamber by Friday, Jan. 12 to participate and be heard, said Pumphrey.

The groups include: small business owners/entrepreneurs, young professionals, employees of large companies, commercial and residential realtors, residents who work in Atlanta, established residents 55-plus and new residents..

DCI wants to hear from residents who may have never been involved in their community before.

To sign up or for more information, contact the Douglas County Chamber at 770-942-5022 or email Kali Boatright at boatright@douglascountygeorgia.com.

City/county engagement

Pumphrey said both the city and county have been involved and are completely engaged.

“We have multiple partners, business leaders and elected officials to lead us to be a more prosperous Douglas County,” he said. “We have high hopes we will be successful in accomplishing this.”

The strategic planning committee is leading the way for “proactive, controlled change,” said Miller.

“Why don’t we control our destiny and bring in what we want it to be,” Miller said. “It is exciting with all of the collaboration that is taking place.”

Three Target Clusters

Three target clusters determined are for advanced manufacturing, which includes: aerospace, fabricated metal and machinery manufacturing, food processing and medical device manufacturing.

The second target is for professional technology services, which includes: back office support, data centers and finance and technology.

The third target includes media and entertainment, focusing on digital media, advertising and public relations, film and television production, retail and entertaining and outdoor recreation.

In its analysis, Avalanche has discovered a strong foundation already in place upon which to build.

The strategic planning process uncovered a vast number of competitive advantages in Douglas County, including a wealth of resources, along with passionate and giving people and described it as “remarkably equitable.”

The study stated that “Douglas County is poised for economic success, with five consecutive years of sustained job growth, an infusion of young, educated residents and strong leaders who are willing to work together to make a positive impact on the community.”

The four quandrants

One of the strategic plan’s challenges is how to meld the county’s four diverse quadrants into a cohesive community.

“There are areas in which our county is going to grow, and managing that growth is the best way,” Pumphrey said. “We have a suburban/rural mix and we must identify what those different facets are and tell that story.”

He said the county has over 8,000 areas of non-dedicated green space, calling this “an asset we don’t want to lose.”

Co-chair Ana-Elis Perry said, “The objective is to take all of this in play and use a collaborate approach and bring everyone together. This is a community plan and won’t happen without input from the community.”

 

DCI FOCUS GROUPS

On Jan. 18-19, DCI will conduct eight individual focus groups for resident input that will inform the development of the brand and strategy to leverage community strengths and help address specific challenges.

Community residents who fall in the specific groups listed should contact the Douglas County Chamber by Friday, Jan. 12 to participate and be heard, said Pumphrey.

The groups include: small business owners/entrepreneurs, young professionals, employees of large companies, commercial and residential realtors, residents who work in Atlanta, established residents 55-plus and new residents.

DCI wants to hear from residents who may have never been involved in their community before.

To sign up or for more information, contact the Douglas County Chamber at 770-942-5022 or email Kali Boatright at boatright@douglascountygeorgia.com.

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