In July, Brunswick County commissioners temporarily appointed themselves as economic development board members and dissolved the county’s Economic Development Commission.
In August, county commissioners saw some pretty staggering numbers.
The population continues to grow at a 10 percent increase over the last four years, but residential and commercial building permits have jumped by 23 percent over the last year along with a 25 percent increase in housing sales.
For Brunswick County commissioners, the first step for continued growth is to identify a new long-term vision for the county. With the recent creation of the Strategic Planning Committee, county commissioners will participate in a series of 10 public meetings with Brunswick County residents to help formulate a strategy, and then apply it to a comprehensive plan as they chart a course for the county’s future.
“We want to see what is attracting everybody here, and make sure as we grow that we don’t stray away from that. I think we should not try to put the county in a ‘one-size-fits-all box’; we have 19 towns and they all look like very different places,” said Commissioner Frank Williams. “We have to find on a county-wide level how the towns maintain their identity while continuing to grow.”
According to Brunswick County officials, this new county strategy will be an update from the previous county publication Brunswick Tomorrow, created in 2004.
For Williams, it’s an update long overdue.
“Brunswick County has experienced rapid growth, undergone tremendous demographic changes and experienced dramatic economic shifts in the 11 years since the county’s most recent visioning process,” said Williams.
“That vision [Brunswick Tomorrow] was developed in the context in 2003 and 2004, and we’ve started to see more people over the age of 65 move to our county than ever before,” said Williams.
According to Williams, fostering the county’s progress falls into the time management philosophy of “the tyranny of the urgent,” with long-term goals taking precedent, and input from the public a priority.
“We need to take a look at water and sewer lines and also the future of transportation for this increase in population in our county, but I’m a big believer in having a plan. If you have a plan that makes you think in the long term instead of just the short term—and it’s important for us to hear from the public as we put these goals together,” said Williams.
Williams will serve as the strategic planning committee’s chairman with Brunswick County Commissioner Randy Thompson serving as the co-chair.
The first public meeting to start formulating the updated strategic plan will be at 6:30 p.m. Monday, October 5 at Leland Town Hall. Nine other meetings will be scheduled throughout the county through October and into November, with each meeting facilitated by Chris May, executive director of the Cape Fear Council of Governments.
An online questionnaire is also available through the county website for those who cannot attend a meeting. You can find the questionnaire and the meeting schedule here.
According to Williams, he expects the release of the final planning publication coming in early spring.
“I am pleased the Commissioners chose to go through this process, and that we have this opportunity for valuable and needed public input to he help the county chart its vision for the future,” said County Manager Ann Hardy. “This input will be essential in helping ensure that Brunswick County meets not only the needs but also the priorities of its residents.”
James Mieczkowski is a news reporter for Port City Daily. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org On Twitter: @mieczkowskiPCD