Master plan seeks county residents’ OK

County residents will approve the plan via a mailed survey.
Thursday, March 22, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 7:27 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

The effort to create a new five-year master plan for economic development in Boone County will begin in the mailboxes of some of the county’s smaller towns.

Centralia residents will find a two-page city survey in their April utility bills that will include two questions about what should be done to improve the town’s economy and about obstacles to economic growth. Those questions are part of a larger survey that will include questions about housing, police responsiveness, downtown and growth issues.

“Hopefully we will get enough of a response to paint a good statistical picture,” City Administrator Lynn Behrns said.

Answers to the two economic questions will be used by Regional Economic Development Inc., or REDI, to help create its 2007 Master Economic Development Plan for the county.

REDI facilitates the creation of a new master plan every five years to serve as a strategic guide for future business and economic growth. A master plan steering committee was appointed to oversee the effort. That committee will also examine the results of a 2005 community survey conducted in Ashland.

Ashland City Administrator Ken Eftink said residents returned 700 of the 3,100 surveys that were sent out.

“We felt like we had a good response from the community,” he said.

Similar surveys are planned for Hallsville and possibly Rocheport.

REDI President Bernie Andrews said the steering committee will avoid soliciting a large amount of public input from Columbia residents until after the city’s visioning effort is complete.

The city of Columbia, however, will conduct a resident survey this spring that will include questions about economic development.

It will forward its findings to the steering committee, which will include the findings in its countywide report.

“The entire process will take six months or so to complete,” Andrews said.

The steering committee will meet in late April to discuss progress. Once a first draft of the plan is complete, the committee will schedule a series of public hearings.

“When all is said and done, we will have a lot of input, which is great,“ Andrews said.

Andrews hopes to have a final draft of the master plan in time for REDI’s annual membership meeting in August.

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