EDP’s strategic plan beginning to take shape

Work on a strategic economic development plan in Danville and Boyle County is moving from abstract to concrete.

“We’re now pivoting. We’re pivoting from the data collection —‘what’s the consultant’s point of view?’ — to ‘what is the consultant’s recommendations?’” Economic Development Partnership Chairman Ben Nelson said Tuesday. “And that’s where things will get interesting because he’s likely to come in and say things to us we struggle to hear.”

Nelson reported to the Boyle County Fiscal Court on Tuesday about the strategic economic development plan, which members of the EDP are paying $83,795 to develop. He updated the EDP board on Wednesday, as well.

The EDP working group that’s guiding the process has developed a draft list of goals for the plan, which is intended to guide economic development in the county for the next five to seven years. Nelson is sharing those goals with many area leaders and asking them to then share outward again, seeking any input on them before the working group begins finalizing them next week.

“The reason this is on the agenda this morning is to look at all of you capable board members and go, ‘ollie-ollie-income-free,’” Nelson said at the EDP board meeting Wednesday. “If you have thoughts or suggestions on the draft goals for economic development for Boyle County for the next five to seven years, today, tomorrow or Friday would be a good day to share your thoughts because we will be moving on. … Between the 20th and the 27th, a working group will be working very hard to finalize these.”

Nelson told Boyle magistrates the point of paying consulting company RKG more than $83,000 is to get at hard truths and hear criticisms only an outsider can level.

“That’s why we’re paying this money — to get a neutral third party that doesn’t have a dog in this fight that has more expertise than I have to come in and go, ‘if you all want to turn this up, here’s some stuff you might think about doing,” he said before noting that EDP partners are under no obligation to follow the recommendations that ultimately come out of the process.

“It’s you and me that will figure out whether we’re going to do that or not,” he told magistrates Tuesday. “So he’s going to come in and give us his thoughts, and then he’s going to get on his pony and leave town and we’re going to still be here going, ‘do you all want to do this or not?’” 

SO YOU KNOW

The draft goals for the 5- to 7-year strategic economic development plan are:

• Optimize and resource an organizational structure for implementing economic development that maximizes efficiency and effectiveness of the key stakeholders.

• Establish a consensus among the implementation partners on the economic development vision of the community, the actions necessary to accomplish the vision and role each would need to play.

• Develop strategies that attract more high-paying jobs, preferably with benefit packages.

• Positively impact the occupational tax revenues for Boyle County and the City of Danville.

• Create a more business-friendly environment that encourages the expansion of existing businesses and promotes an entrepreneurial spirit.

• Diversify and support retail and service offerings to enhance the livability and convenience for county residents.

• Preserve and support the continued success of the county’s agricultural industry, and identify strategies to expand agri-tourism.

• Pursue economic development strategies that help maintain the community character, historic assets and quality of life that are an asset for Boyle County.

• Support the further development of Boyle County’s tourism and recreation activities to enhance their positive economic impact on the community.

• Create better connections between education/workforce development and employment opportunities to provide opportunities for existing residents to flourish in Boyle County.