Thursday, February 1, 2007
Leadership class payoff of strategic planning
By SUE WATSON
The 2007 LeadershipPlenty class kicked off last Thursday and Friday with a tour of Marshall County and beginning modules that explore the various leadership styles and resources in the county.
The class, now in its third year, attempts to train between 20 and 30 people a year. The membership reflects a mix of professionals in business, education, medicine and government who want to become better leaders.
Leadership class is one of many spinoffs of the Marshall County Strategic Planning that began in November of 2002 and continued through 2005.
Where we were
The strategic plan established committees to assess the county’s needs and assets in areas of education, tax structure, economic and community development, health and safety, job creation and other areas with the intention of tapping the creative potential in the county.
The overarching goal of strategic planning was to help the county to design and control its own destiny.
The strategic planning process was designed to help economically stressed counties in the Appalachian Region to combat lagging economies and plant lay-offs and closings. The overall objective of planning is to create wealth by attracting, creating, and retaining or expanding business and industry.
Planners wanted to increase the tax base in order to reduce taxes or to combat rising taxes; increase job creations by building a trained and educated workforce, to improve the health of citizens, to assure the safety of residents; to add jobs by attracting business and industry; and to improve services by making government information and services more available through technology.
In 2002, Marshall County was struggling to kick off development in the Chickasaw Trail Industrial Park and elsewhere.
Where we are now
The established goals took off slowly.
In 2005, Marshall County School District notched forward its goal of building an educated workforce with its first educational summit which brought successful business and education leaders together with high school juniors and seniors. Leaders spoke candidly about the value of education and the necessity of setting high aspirations for careers.
In 2005 the first LeadershipPlenty class in the county formed, an off-shoot of strategic planning.
Also in 2005, the first Marshall/Benton Area Job Fair took root and has been offered each year since as a means to match up employers with job seekers.
Then in 2005 and 2006 after expanding the Chickasaw Trails Industrial Park and passing a comprehensive zoning plan, the Marshall County Industrial Development Authority landed its first big warehousing and distribution center at Chickasaw Trails with the construction and opening of Exel’s 700,000 square foot warehouse.
Shortly afterward, IDA announced that Mid-South Ag Equipment had decided to move its Memphis manufacturing operations to Chickasaw.
Then last year, Cargill animal nutritional feeds decided to move its manufacturing and distribution operations to Byhalia, heralding the county’s third big industry catch.
This year, Lund Precision Group announced it is moving its headquarters and manufacturing facility to the Holly Springs Industrial Park.
And in the City of Holly Springs, Kenlan Development helped seed new commercial growth by investing in the Holly Springs Commons.
New zoning ordinances have enabled developers to have more information about how properties may be used and have helped protect the interests and investments of taxpayers.
In concert with the Holly Springs Commons development, Alliance HealthCare System announced its plans to locate a new medical clinic and hospital near the Commons.
And last year, Alliance Charitable Foundation began to address the health and educational needs of the county. After several community meetings to share the assessed needs for health care in Marshall County, the foundation partnered with other healthcare providers to offer free health screening clinics and clinics for expectant mothers to the community.
Last year the board of supervisors sought to extend tax collection, law enforcement and ambulance service, another goal of the health and safety and tax committees.
The Byhalia Substation opened to serve the growing populace in the northwestern and southwestern reaches of the county.
To help make tax services more accessible, the tax collector’s office instituted a payment by credit card to make it easier for individuals to buy their vehicle tags and pay property taxes.
And new county maps that reflected the zoning districts were made available online at the tax assessor’s office.
This year at the chancery and circuit clerks’ offices, records will become available online.
The equipment arrived last week that will eventually make viewing of land deeds and records available online. The judges and attorneys will be able to access court cases online, thus reducing the need to travel to courthouses to check on court cases.
A county website was developed, another benchmark of the strategic plan, and the production of a county brochure, another goal designed to also showcase the county’s resources just got underway at the IDA office.
In the area of education and workforce development, a new benchmark was reached a few weeks ago with the rudimentary beginnings of a Marshall County workforce training program through partnerships with the City of Holly Springs and Rust College.
With new jobs that will become available soon due to industrial and commercial growth, the workforce training program will help prepare and match individuals seeking employment with employers with real job opportunities.
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