What do the people of Morgantown want their city to look and feel like in the years ahead? Is there a way for local people to shape the development of this fast-changing community?
That is the focus of a new collaborative effort featuring six key Morgantown organizations to create a holistic Community and Economic Development Strategy for the city.
Planning processes are not new. But what is unique about this effort is how such a broad group of local stakeholders are coming together to work on it, together.
The Morgantown Area Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Morgantown Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Morgantown Area Economic Partnership, Monongalia County Development Authority, Main Street Morgantown, and Campus Neighborhoods Revitalization Corporation (Sunnyside Up) have formed a new collaboration to work on a mission that is common to all of them – making Morgantown a better place to live and work.
They began this process earlier this year with a Feasibility Analysis, which identified the need for a roadmap for how the organizations could collaborate significantly more in the future.
To facilitate this process, the group contracted Market Street Services, Inc, a community and economic development research firm out of Atlanta, Georgia.
This month, the local partnership has been conducting a series of focus groups, comprised of Morgantown residents, to gather feedback from the community and to help identify a unifying vision.
Last week, I took part in one of the focus groups comprised of young professionals. It was exciting to envision what Morgantown could be in the coming years. We discussed everything from traffic to recycling and the lack of activities for young professionals and families.
Participants didn’t shy away from identifying the challenges of living in Morgantown. Importantly though, people came with solutions in mind.
Of course, certain aspects of our community need some work, but what’s clear is that residents are willing to lend a hand.
This process, the debut of the Morgantown-centric platform Zackquill.com, and the newly formed Downtown Task Force, gives me hope that Morgantown residents will find at least one way to get engaged in improving the quality of life in our community.
The partnership is working diligently to make sure this plan is all inclusive, and so they are asking residents of Morgantown to complete this survey. It’s simple, and will take a mere 5 minutes out of your day, so add your insights to the survey and be sure your voice is heard.
As a result of this months-long effort, the partnership will produce a consensus-based Community Development and Economic Development Strategy to guide their community work for years to come.
Let’s build a better Morgantown. Interested in a regular community conversation? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org
PS: The next Downtown Task Force meeting, organized by the Coordinating Council on Homelessness, is slated for Tuesday, December 13, 2016 at 6:30 p.m. at the Spruce Street Methodist Church (across from the library). Hope to see you there!