If my name is familiar, you know me from the Mon Valley. For those who don’t know me, I’m a Washington County kid, born and raised in Charleroi.
I’m a businessman, writer, keynote speaker and, most recently, a video producer. I am a passionate advocate for the eastern part of Washington County, the Mon Valley, small towns made of steel and glass and nestled along the banks of the Monongahela River. But I’m not writing about them today.
That’s because, for the past 18 months, I have been spending more professional time in the western part of Washington County as well as her “little sister” to the south, Greene. Well, the little sister is not so little anymore. There is a unique and powerful conversation happening in Greene County, which is quietly becoming a powerful place.
My introduction to Greene County came in January 2018. I knew about Waynesburg University and a little about the communities of Waynesburg and Carmichaels. But I became intimately acquainted with this beautiful place last year. Life in Greene County has been described as a “perfect mix of rural determination and small-town friendliness.” It has quietly been a special place for some time, right next door.
Why Greene County? It started as a job, but has become so much more. They have big North Star Goals for the future of our region and a roadmap to keep focused along the way. They are not just checking a box. They believe their families and communities deserve better.
That roadmap has taken shape in the form of a comprehensive plan. With the help of a 75-member advisory committee made up of residents from every corner of the county, representatives from business and stakeholder organizations, the Greene County Planning Commission and the county’s municipalities, the plan is a roadmap to the future.
This extensive 12-month process to create a vision is helping to set the tone for the future of Greene County. The goals and strategies set forth in the soon-to-be adopted Greene County Comprehensive Plan Update will impact the county for generations. The critical importance of the planning process is being driven by the commissioners through their implementation of the Greene County Development and Marketing Plan.
Like their neighbors in Washington County, the new Greene County economy will be powered by coal and natural gas. What does this mean for business? This early-action program developed with the advisory committee will create a “Resource Roadmap” necessary to provide the county with tools to protect its rural nature and natural beauty, while upgrading its infrastructure and redeveloping dormant industrial sites.
This being National Small Business Week, it should be noted that the county is committed to local business retention and expansion, as well as attraction of manufacturing, the development of critical infrastructure, and collaborative educational programming to develop the workforce of the future.
An entrepreneurial spirit is prevalent in the county. From small retail establishments to mid-sized manufacturing operations, the county’s business community is prepared for the future.
Why are we making this big push to change our path forward? With 223 years of history behind it, Greene was written off by many experts who said the county’s best years were in the past. This is the next step.
There is a saying that, loosely translated, says, “A place grows great when men and women plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” The commissioners, along with the 75 friends and neighbors who make up the plan advisory committee, are planting those trees.
The team that built the six pillars of the future through the comprehensive planning process shared its vision of that future. The future of Greene County, and our country, will depend on the support provided by those six pillars.
What the county is implementing now is a beacon to a brighter future, when future generations will benefit from the trees being planted today. If you are ready for a change of scenery, Greene County is open for business.
Jamie Protin is founder and principal of The Protin Group in Belle Vernon.
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