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     Fayetteville is looking for a few good men — and women — who are truly interested in making a difference in the community. And on Saturday, March 28, county leaders are hoping those folks will join them at the Crown Coliseum to participate in Greater Fayetteville Futures II, a community action plan.
     Greater Fayetteville Futures II is an offshoot of a 2001 project that bore the same name. Greater Fayetteville Futures was, according to Fayetteville Mayor Tony Chavonne, the “first honest assessment of our community.”
     “That’s when we acknowledged that we didn’t have the economy to create the jobs we needed to build our economy,” he said. “It was recognition that we were not where we needed to be.”
{mosimage} At that time, the group tackled three major goals: image, a unified vision for economic opportunities, and leveraging the military’s presence in the community for greater economic opportunities. From that project came a unified economic development presence in the form of the Chamber, the development of the History, Heroes and a Hometown feeling slogan and a closer examination of economic opportunities tied to the military that are not service-related.
Key to the success of the first Fayetteville Futures was the involvement in the process by a wide segment of the community. It is, in fact, an action plan for the future. When the group convenes this month, it will focus on 10 objectives that will help the community reach its 2020 Vision: Greater Fayetteville will be recognized as a top 10 place to live in the Southeastern United States for all with safe neighborhoods, cultural opportunities, a model education system, well-connected and a strong, vibrant local economy.
     The 10 objectives are:
     VO 1: Create a model education system that supports and networks workforce readiness and sustainable innovations.
     VO 2: Effectively implement the community’s economic development strategy.
     VO 3: Ensure safety and security for all.
     VO 4: Expand and develop services that lead to a better living environment.
     VO 5: Leverage the region’s defense technology assets.
     VO 6: Increase/improve traditional and non-traditional connectivity infrastructure (transportation and information technology.)
     VO 7: Improve and sustain health services and wellness
     VO 8: Grow and sustain a “green” community.
     VO 9: Communicate our community story.
     VO 10: Sustain and grow cultural and recreational opportunities.
     Over the past several years, several studies have been conducted throughout the community to help guide the direction and firm up the 2020 vision. Chavonne said the community has the information it needs to meet the vision, now it’s time for people to “roll up their sleeves” and do the work to get the community where it needs to go.
     To do that, community leaders pulled up the original Fayetteville Futures model and put it back on the table. According to Chavonne the reason the first project was so successful was that it was “inclusive.”
     “It’s an action place, not a white-paper exercise,” he noted. “We already have the benefit of the reports. We know what we need to do, and now we need to energize the community on these action items.
     Kirk deViere is helping facilitate the process. He explained that during the meeting at the Crown, citizens will get an overview of the objectives and the mission, and then they will have the opportunity to break down into smaller groups and explore objectives in a more depth. “Citizens will get a chance to plug into two objectives,” said deViere. “They will then discuss a series of initiatives and create project teams with definite, measurable goals. Each initiative has a one-year time for completion.”
     That’s when the ball is squarely in the hands of the community. Once the project teams are created, they become responsible for setting their meetings, creating their plans and working to meet their targets.
     “This is a completely action focused, action-based project,” said deViere. “The community has the direction, the resources have been spent and a blue print is in place. It now becomes a community playbook.”
     He noted that there is a wide spectrum of the community involved from large stakeholders in the education, healthcare, governmental and other agencies, to individual citizens. “People who make up the community are represented at the table to put the final shape on what we are going to do,” he said.
     Chavonne said that cross-segment of the community will help to look at the bigger picture and seeing how issues are not one dimensional. “Crime rates aren’t just an issue with the city,” said Chavonne. “They impact across the community in a number of ways. If we all work in a collaborative way we can find an answer.”
     He was adamant in that this is not a “study to study” our community. “Through this process we will have specific steps to move our community forward,” he said.
     deViere said at the end of the year, a community scorecard will be issued letting the citizens see what has been accomplished. “This is a very open process. We will use a variety of means to keep the community informed so that they can gauge how we are doing,” he said.
     But, both men pointed out that it begins with the community. The meeting is open to the public and the process is community driven. “We need people to be energized about the process, roll up their sleeves and make a difference in our community,” said Chavonne. “We want to find people who will engage and move forward.”
     The event begins sat 9:30 a.m. at the Crown and runs through noon. For more information, visit the organization Web site at www.GreaterFayettevilleFutures.org .

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