|Active research leading toward active plan for Saline County, MO|
Supplementing raw data with the real perspectives and desires of the community are at the core of an economic development master plan being developed by Zimmer's Development Management Group.
The effort is being led by Troy Nash, Vice President and Director of Public Sector Consulting at Zimmer. Since taking on the assignment from the Marshall-Saline Development Corporation in January, Nash has spent the past five months immersing himself in the both the public and private sectors of the county. Charrettes in Marshall, Sweet Springs and Slater have allowed citizens and members of the business communities to voice their perspectives on the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats for both their individual cities and the county as a whole. Nash is currently conducting interviews with key stakeholders to narrow the focus of his plan. Results gathered from the public meetings and stakeholder interviews offer needed perspective to the raw data collected from census and economic reports compiled by Zimmer's research staff.
"Marshall is a community with a strong entrepreneurial spirit embracing innovation and new ways of thinking," said Nash. "It is truly refreshing to work with people whose values and tenacity drive their success. Numbers and raw data are only a part of the formula for a successful economic development plan. Granted, it plays a large part in the plan, but getting to know the people, how they work and the lengths they're willing to go to ensure the on-going growth of their community - that's the exciting part of creating this plan."
While the final plan won't be presented to the MSDC board until the end of 2012, Nash and MSDC Director Bill Riggins, are already beginning to see opportunities arise from the research and relationships created during the initial months of this project. In a recent article published in the Marshall Democrat-News, Riggins spoke of several opportunities he foresees will present themselves to the community during the next 6-to-9 months as a direct result of these early stages of the planning process.
Future areas of opportunity highlighted during the charretes include development on land surrounding the I-70/US 65 junction, improving school facilities, developing new opportunities for retail
After meetings in Sweet Springs, Slater and Marshall brought residents' perceptions to the forefront, a list of priorities has been set for possible growth. Those priorities included developing the Interstate 70 and U.S. Highway 65 junction, school facilities, housing, retail, new business/industry, hotels and Entrepreneurial Rural Initiative development.
"It's a very necessary community conversation to have," Zimmer Real Estate's Troy Nash told local reporters. "The residents of Saline County are going to have to chart their own destiny. We're going to go back and dissect the information, to analyze it, massage it a little bit and come up with a set of recommendations that are doable, practical and implementable."Zimmer hopes to have a final report in the coming months, along with recommendations for county progress.
"We are not associated with plans that sit on shelves and collect dust," he said. "They are action-oriented plans. Because we are developers, our approach is vastly different from what you may find elsewhere. We're looking to do deals. We're looking to get things done. That'll be reflected in our recommendations."