07/08/12 — Fremont funded to start planning

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Fremont funded to start planning

By Steve Herring
Published in News on July 8, 2012 1:50 AM

FREMONT -- The town's Planning Kickoff Committee will meet Thursday at 8 a.m. at town hall as the Fremont community embarks on its first steps into the N.C. Small Towns Economic Prosperity Program.

Designed to help struggling small towns with economic renewal through community coaching, leadership training, planning assistance and grants, the program is part of the N.C. Rural Economic Development Center. It is open to municipalities with a population of 7,500 or less.

Fremont will receive $25,000 for planning and technical assistance by an economic development adviser. Once the town develops a plan for economic development the state will provide $100,000 to implement it.

While the money will be a huge benefit, Town Administrator Kerry McDuffie said the most important part will be the technical assistance provided by the state.

Thursday's session will be followed by a July 24 public meeting from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at town hall, when a leadership team, a requirement of the program, will be introduced and the purpose and expectations of program's planning process will be explained.

The leadership team must represent all segments of the community. People who are active and involved in the community were contacted early on as the town considered applying for the grant, McDuffie said. In some cases, people came to town officials saying they wanted to be involved as well, he said.

A second requirement is a kickoff event to increase public awareness of the program and to invite widespread participation, he said.

That community-wide event is planned for Aug. 7 to coincide with National Night Out.

The next step will be development of a draft vision statement and community assessment. The committee will meet on the fourth Tuesday of each month from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at town hall.

"Everybody is welcome," McDuffie said. "We do not want to exclude anybody. We want to encourage people to participate. The more people, the more ideas."

The N.C. Rural Economic Development Center is a private, nonprofit organization whose mission is to develop sound economic strategies that improve the quality of life in rural North Carolina, with a special focus on individuals with low to moderate incomes and communities with limited resources.