The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

December 7, 2012

Connect Our Future project continues

By Brian Graves, Staff Writer
CNHI News Service

Friday, December 7, 2012 — The process to plan for a better future for the region has begun.

The process to plan for a better future for the region has begun.

As part of the Connect Our Future project, the Centralina Council of Governments (CCOG) hosted an open house Monday at the Stanly County Agri-Civic Center.

The project is a three-year effort to get communities to identify the uniqueness of their areas and to construct a vision as to what efforts need to be made to ensure a prosperous future.

Monday’s open house was the fifth held so far by the CCOG that allows citizens to drop by and record their thoughts and ideas on what the region can do to plan for future needs.

There are a total of 30 planned and another Stanly County Session is scheduled for 4-7 tonight at the Crutchfield Campus of Stanly Community College in Locust.

“We are a little late starting this for our region, but I think we will catch up fast,” said Jim Prosser, executive director of CCOG.

The organization points out various other regional activities of this nature in other areas of the county that proved successful.

Knoxville and Chattanooga saw revitalized urban cores in their areas.

The Birmingham region developed more affordable housing.

Salt Lake City identified more than $4.5 billion in infrastructure savings.

Also highlighted were that all regions were more able to effectively use limited federal funds.

Anyone attending an open house first registers and then proceeds through several placards with information about the process and why it is so important to participate.

At the end, visitors are asked to fill out a response form either on paper or using computer laptops.

The questionnaire asks questions about what the participant likes best about the region, an opinion on transportation needs and the biggest challenge for the future.

“When you look at the regions who have gone through this process, you can see what improvements have come to fruition because of it,” Prosser said.

“But these things sometimes take 10-15 years to eventually happen. That’s why it’s important to get the process started.”

Prosser said the participation has been very good since the open houses have begun.

“We are seeing high-quality responses,” Prosser said.

“People really are interested and understand what this process is trying to accomplish.”

The schedule calls for initiating public engagement through mid- to late-2014 when a final report can be processed with all the ideas gathered to be displayed.