Forty-two people gathered Tuesday at Marion Community Center to hear how the city’s strategic plan has developed and make final comments and suggestions.
Misty Bruckner, director of the policy and management center at Wichita State University, led the meeting.
Bruckner outlined for audience members key points of the draft strategic plan, eight months in the making. She said the meeting would be the last opportunity for citizens to have a say before results are given to the city council.
Participants were asked to choose their favorite of three mission statements. They also were asked to fill out a form about what goal area they liked best, what excited them about the goal, whether there was anything they would like to add or change for a strategy, and whether they were willing to be involved in making the goal happen.
People walked around looking at goals and strategies posted on the walls and chatted amongst themselves.
The first goal of the strategic plan is to foster a community response to address current and future workforce needs. The objective is to create an annual employer survey to assess needs and establish a baseline for employer perception of community support.
Strategies include using state resources in cooperation with the high school to include technical education, apprenticeships, and other resources; to support existing businesses in attracting and retain talent; and to develop a plan to attract and support remote workers.
The second goal is to improve the city’s communication. An annual survey would gauge community perception. The plan also calls for increaseing the number of communication platforms.
Strategies include development of a proactive communication plan and process; identification of a lead person for communication; confirming platforms and dedicated resources; and coordinating community messages with key partners.
A third goal of the plan is to improve housing by decreasing dilapidated housing over three years and increasing new construction.
Strategies include applying for state resources; reviewing zoning and code regulations to expedite repair and rehabilitation; identifying financial incentives for home and business repair; exploring partnerships with private sectors to improve housing inventory through a rehabilitation program; and investigating opportunities to increase high school students with construction education and partnering with the schools to improve home rehabilitation.
A fourth goal is to grow the economy by championing existing businesses, industries, and natural resources. The objective is to increase the perception of support for employers and increase the number of new businesses.
Strategies include hiring an economic development director; leveraging community assets to increase tourism; conducting regular meetings with employers to understand their needs and unite community support; and engaging high school students to promote businesses and the community through technology and regular engagement opportunities with businesses.
A second economic development goal is to improve infrastructure to enhance public services. This would include increasing sidewalk replacement and implementing 100% of the city’s annual maintenance plan.
Strategies include providing affordable broadband options; creating a sidewalk replacement plan with city financial support; exploring grant funding; connecting with street replacement and maintenance plans; increasing homeowner allowances for repairs; implementing the street maintenance plan; prioritizing keeping and maintaining brick streets; addressing Mud Creek flow issues; considering options for pathway; and investigating options to introduce a second east-west road connection over Luta Creek.