08/26/12 — Fremont economic to define its mission at meeting Tuesday

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Fremont economic to define its mission at meeting Tuesday

By Steve Herring
Published in News on August 26, 2012 1:50 AM

FREMONT -- The group steering Fremont's Small Towns Economic Prosperity program will continue its efforts Tuesday evening to draft a mission statement for the economic development plan that is expected to take 12 to 15 months to complete.

Fremont was selected for the STEP program in June. The program is designed to assist struggling small towns with economic revitalization by incorporating community coaching, leadership training, planning assistance and grants.

"We look forward to people being a part of this," said Town Administrator Kerry McDuffie. "We hear people all of the time say they would like to see businesses come to town. This is a way that they can be a part of getting them here -- not to just talk about, but to be a part of it."

The first step was the creation of a community leadership team that meets on the fourth Tuesday of each month from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at town hall. The team's first meeting attracted approximately 30 people last month.

"We started working on the mission statement," McDuffie said. "It is not too late for people to join and be a part of this -- to be a part of setting the big direction. We certainly have room for people."

"The main objective (for Tuesday's meeting) is to accomplish three tasks," said Oliver Bass, chief planner for state Department of Commerce's central regional office, who is working with the town. "First, the team will attempt to define its mission. The mission statement will tell the public who the Fremont Leadership Team is and what it is doing. It will guide future decisions of the team and help define the scope of the town's economic development plan.

"Second, the team will participate in an exercise to share ideas about what makes for a healthy community. Third, the group will identify who else needs to be at the table and how to expand participation in the planning process so that all interests are adequately represented in the plan recommendations. This is all part of building the foundation for the defining economic development goals and strategies that will shape the town's economic development future."

Bass said that he thinks last month's meeting was productive, well attended and enjoyed good participation.

"Members were very enthusiastic and indicated a willingness to put in the work needed to implement a successful plan," Bass said. "The team formed two committees of volunteers to craft a proposed mission statement and develop a community profile for consideration by the full team without much prodding.

"I would encourage anyone with an interest in the town's future to come to the next meeting and participate."

The mission statement committee is in the process of reviewing the submissions, McDuffie said.

Once a broad mission statement is finalized, the team will begin to fine tune it, he said.

The program, which launched in 2006, is open to municipalities with populations of 7,500 or less. Thus far, 67 towns have participated.

Through the program, the N.C. Rural Center is providing the town with $25,000 for planning along with an economic development advisor.

Once an economic development plan is developed, the state will provide $100,000 to use as seed money to implement it.