10/29/12 — Fremont planning ongoing

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Fremont planning ongoing

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on October 29, 2012 1:46 PM

FREMONT -- The town of Fremont is continuing to move forward in its effort to improve the area's economy through a program created by the North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center.

Residents have been working with representatives from the center to create a plan for the future. Monthly meetings, which started in July, have sought to put together a vision for the town and the surrounding area.

The meetings, called Small Towns Economic Prosperity meetings, will continue Nov. 27. They are designed to put together a vision for the town and goals for economic revitalization. Officials have said that the process, which has begun to move toward planning action for the town, could take up to 15 months to complete.

The STEP program is designed to help small towns spur economic development through community coaching, leadership training, planning assistance and grants.

The program, one of several offered by the nonprofit Rural Center, offers select towns an economic restructuring team to put together a plan to attract investment in small towns across the state. This year, Fremont and 10 other towns joined the 56 other N.C. municipalities who have taken part in the program since its inception in 2006.

With a vision statement now in place, Town Manager Kerry McDuffie said the meetings should begin to look at ways for the town to execute its plans.

McDuffie, members of the Town Board and the town staff attended a two-day conference last week in Raleigh, meeting with representatives of other small towns presented their economic revitalization strategies and experiences for consideration.

The information gleaned from the conference will be brought up at the next STEP meeting, McDuffie said.

All residents of the town and surrounding community are encouraged to participate, he said.

"The more input and the more consensus you have from all of the community, the better off you are. The more you have, the better plan you'll have."

For more information about the STEP program, including information about the next meeting, call Fremont Town Hall at (919) 242-5151.