Much of the initial groundwork has been completed for the two community strategic planning efforts that are currently underway.

The Grow Grand Island program is being funded through of a cooperative effort of the Grand Island Area Economic Development Corporation, the Grand Island Chamber of Commerce, and the Grand Island/Hall County Convention and Visitors Bureau. Market Street Services of Atlanta, Georgia, is the facilitator-consultant.

The Grander Vision strategic planning effort launched by Mayor Jay Vavricek more than a year ago is a cooperative effort with Hall County. Funding was provided through a donation made to the city by the Nebraska State Fair. The consultant for this project is Design Workshop of Denver.

To distinguish between the focus of the two plans, Grow Grand Island aims at economic and business development strategies to help elevate the community’s competitiveness for new jobs and investment. Grander Vision focuses on infrastructure, intergovernmental cooperation, social needs and quality of life.

Simply stated, Grow Grand Island fixes a vision for how we grow, while Grander Vision will define how we live.

There will be some overlaps in the data gathering process and sectors where common ground will be covered. For instance, both efforts raise questions about economic development, education and quality of life issues. However, the two approaches together will serve to engage a larger portion of the local population and cover a broader footprint. The processes being used by the two consultants and steering committees will yield very different action plans and mechanisms for executing those plans over the next five years.

The cross-pollination of the survey data and conclusions drawn from the research should help to better define the action steps and stakeholder responsibilities that will be revealed at the end of each of the planning efforts. The development phases of both strategic planning projects are anticipated to wrap up in late fall of this year.

So far, some 80 volunteers and staff have logged a good deal of time working with consultants on the two tracks. The Grow Grand Island community survey wrapped up in May. Nearly 1,700 local residents registered their responses to the survey. This valuable data combined with the benchmarking statistics used to compare Grand Island with peer communities Sioux City, Iowa; St. Joseph, Missouri; and Salina, Kansas, was digested into a thorough “competitive assessment” report which is available for viewing at growgrandisland.com.

Phase II of the Grow Grand Island project has been completed and details of the “Target Sector Analysis” will be released to the public shortly. The steering committee now has enough information to go to work on the formulation of specific business development strategies over the coming month.

Grander Vision has engaged additional people through scoping meetings held in Grand Island and communities in the county and through outreach to non-English speaking residents. What is most important to you and your family? What’s needed to move forward? What needs to change for the betterment of Grand Island, Alda, Cairo, Doniphan, Wood River and rural Hall County?

Grander Vision is urging residents from Grand Island and Hall County to take a few minutes to complete the online survey at www.surveymonkey.com/s/GranderVision . This is your opportunity to help shape the future. Grander Vision hopes that 4,000 residents will participate in the survey.

Grand Island has been on a positive trajectory for success. The community and region certainly have challenges, but the possibilities for the future are limitless. The long-range plans will bring those possibilities into sharp focus.

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