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Mayor forms econ development task force

Posted: February 16, 2017 3:47 p.m.
Updated: February 17, 2017 1:00 a.m.

For more than 300 years, together as one, we have successfully addressed numerous challenges here in our beautiful and historic city of Camden. We have celebrated wonderful times, survived difficult events and rebuilt after natural disasters. As our city has evolved, our economic base has diversified and changed. As we look forward, the global economy has created great challenges and opportunities for cities and towns around the world.  Right here at home, we will continue to meet every challenge and build a better, stronger tomorrow.  

In the 2017 - 2018 strategic planning session, your council prioritized the way ahead and delineated a plan to be aligned with the city budget.  After much deliberation, we set our objectives for four primary areas: 

1. Downtown Revitalization Review: Review the current assets and plans, Main Street Program (new director has been hired), and hindering ordinances and polices.  

2. Economic Development: Hire an Economic Development Director dedicated solely to economic development.  

3. Recreation and Leisure: Address environmental campus, river access. 

4. Public Safety:  Review and determine policing and staffing needs.  The entire strategic plan cannot be covered in one paragraph, but hopefully this quick overview will allow you to be aware of the primary areas being addressed.

 As part of building for today and tomorrow, I am announcing the formation of a task force on economic development to study and develop recommendations in all facets of our community initiative to include education and training, small business development, large industrial recruitment and arts-and-entertainment.   We will examine the health of our economy and use our tools to build a robust workplace with opportunities for our children and families across our remarkable city. Some of our most elite business leaders have been successfully recruited to lead this initiative. I have asked George Gibson and Tom Mullikin to co-chair this important Task Force.  They are charged with researching the extent of our unemployment and underemployment as well as examining the tools necessary for addressing this gap.  They will help build and recruit the very best large and small businesses for our community.   

 Through our partnership with Central Carolina Technical College and our own public schools, we will continue to pursue innovative efforts to ensure the best educational opportunities for our students.   We will continue to work closely with our schools to ensure that our children receive the best education and training in the world. This training will prepare them to succeed in our increasingly competitive global economy.  Whether they pursue a college degree or access training to prepare them to directly enter the world of work, we will explore every effort to ensure meaningful and good paying jobs here in Camden.

 Our Task Force will help create a roadmap for economic development of large and small businesses. We will work closely with our businesses in Camden and draw from their considered experiences and opinions. The Task Force will hold public hearings in every precinct in Camden to hear from all of our neighbors. Together and with input across our city, we will craft our plan.

Though we are a small community, together we will seize the abundant opportunities that do indeed exist. As I’ve said before, “We will set expectations with deadlines, goals with clear objectives, and a considered-path forward that involves and encourages the broadest participation.”  I intend to work closely with our County Council, state economic developers and other resources from within our city. We will work collaboratively with all who want to be a part of this exciting challenge. By coupling our experienced city staff with capable volunteers, we will harness tremendous talents and work collectively toward the goal of driving economic opportunities and investments into our town.

 I will rely on the tremendous successes and assets of those from across the entire spectrum of our community.  We will not move forward until every family, every neighbor, every citizen of Camden who wishes to support this initiative and investment in our community has been heard.  Be sure that you actively contribute.  Bring forth your actionable ideas and bring forth any policies or ordinances that perceivably hinder our economic growth.  Lastly, along with those polices or ordinances, bring fresh ideas and suggested/doable solutions.    

Without a doubt, communication is a major component of everything we do.  Be it public works, marketing, events or economic development, communication is a two-way process. There is responsibility on the part of the source and on the part of the receiver.  By working hard and working together, we can delete missed opportunities and positively impact our city.

Our Mayor’s Task Force of ’16 will begin holding meetings as soon as possible and all meetings will be open to the public.  Together, we will work to build the strongest and best future for our community.

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