Greene County officially launched its comprehensive plan last week, when the commissioners opened it to the public for review and comment. It is a living document with a name – “Live Greene, Work Greene, Love Greene” – that is aimed at residents whose energy exceeds even the abundant energy contained within the county’s beautiful rolling hills.
One of my favorite quotes is, “If You Fail to Plan, You Are Planning to Fail.” It has been attributed, in various forms, to historical figures such as Ben Franklin, Winston Churchill and basketball coach John Wooden. That is a favorite because it is spot on. In business and in life, you must have a plan.
But those legendary leaders lived in a different time. In today’s fast-paced, social media-driven world, planning is often taken lightly or overlooked. It is not glamorous or immediate. Yet it is vital to success in any endeavor. How can something so important be innocuous?
Greene County developed its plan not because the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code signaled a time to update, but because officials preferred to proactively embrace life-changing opportunities on the horizon.
What is a comprehensive plan? It’s a 10-year, community-based vision for county growth, and must be developed through a public engagement process. This process involves a diverse group of citizens and stakeholders focused on articulating community values and preferences for growth and development. The plan consists of priority goals and recommended implementation strategies.
The foundation of Greene’s plan was laid out on six powerful pillars, all equally important to the community, all designed to weather any storm. They are: Mobility and Transportation; Workforce and Education; Business and Industry; Quality of Life; Grow and Protect Assets; and Local Government.
We can debate whether economic development should focus on people or places. Should we make investments in people, hoping they succeed regardless of where they end up living? Or should we focus on investments in certain boroughs and townships to bring jobs and growth, thus helping the people who live there?
The Greene County plan takes a holistic approach to economic development, placing emphasis on the county as a community, thus focusing on people and places. The county is a community, after all, and the process of developing an economy is at its core.
The people who developed this plan, the advisory committee, make up a true community. They come from diverse backgrounds, from all corners of the county, to work toward a common goal.
Seventy-five years ago, General Dwight D. Eisenhower said of the Normandy Invasion, “This operation is not being planned with any alternatives. This operation is planned as a victory, and that’s the way it’s going to be. We’re going down there, and we’re throwing everything we have into it, and we’re going to make it a success.”
Think about what was hanging in the balance: the fate of the free world. But the one man ultimately responsible for the outcome spoke with focus and certainty. No maybes, no doubts, no what-ifs, just the will to succeed.
Focus and certainty are what I saw in the eyes of the advisory committee – no maybes, doubts and what-ifs. Greene County has clearly and confidently created a vision that will illuminate the path forward, not just to guide residents for the next 10 years, but for generations.
The plan has a bold vision: “Greene County will enhance its competitive economic position in the region by building upon its strengths, unparalleled natural resources, a rich industrial and agricultural heritage, small-town charm and family values.”
Greene County is a tiger, sprinting fearlessly, focused, bold and certain of its path.
Jamie Protin is founder and principal of The Protin Group in Belle Vernon.
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