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As the project consultant for the Hardin County Vision Project, it is my pleasure to invite each citizen of Hardin County to join Judge-Executive Harry Berry and me by attending the upcoming Hardin County Vision Project community forum. It begins at 4 p.m. Thursday at the Hardin County Schools Performing Arts Center at John Hardin High School, 384 W.A. Jenkins Road, Elizabethtown.
The Vision Project was commissioned by Hardin County Government (and funded by the Office of Economic Adjustment, U.S. Department of Defense), which recognized the significant impact that the current base realignment is having not only on Fort Knox but also on the surrounding community. The intent of the project is to capitalize on BRAC’s impact, identify community strengths and weaknesses and to develop goals which will make the community even more attractive (and competitive) when it comes to future investment – both civilian and military.
The News-Enterprise has reported extensively on the Vision Project. Community forum attendees will have the first opportunity to learn more about the recently announced 24 strategic goals which have been established for Hardin County. Taken as a group, or individually, these goals offer Hardin County an excellent opportunity to take the community to the next level in several important areas.
Make no mistake about it the global economy is becoming even more competitive than ever before. Hardin County has long been one of Kentucky’s leading counties. However, if the county is to get its fair share of new business, industrial and military investment in the future, it must do all that it can now to make sure that the community is as competitive as it can be.
It is highly likely that there will be future rounds of base realignment. The federal government has made an enormous investment in new infrastructure at Fort Knox. There is no reason not to expect additional, substantial growth on post in the future. Yet, the community must be ready.
Likewise, the Commonwealth of Kentucky has made an enormous investment in the newly certified Glendale mega site. The Glendale site is the largest industrial tract in Kentucky and is “shovel-ready.” Thousands of new jobs will be created, yet, the community must be ready, not only for the investment which will come, but for future opportunities after Glendale.
This includes ensuring community competitiveness in areas such as education, community unification, community development, quality of place/quality of life and health care.
The process, which formally kicked off in July 2009, included several steps such as: interviews with key community groups and leaders, an analysis of benchmark counties (counties in the Southeast which align demographically with Hardin County), a confidential key stakeholder survey of 100 community leaders, and, a follow-up community leadership forum to review the survey findings and to establish strategic goals for the future.
All told, 24 strategic goals were adopted. Some of these key goals, identified by area, include:
· Education – develop “leading edge” educational platform in the community, beginning with Pre-school and extending through post-secondary education
· Community Unification – facilitate study of consolidated government structures in other communities and develop recommendations for Hardin County
· Community Development – create new “powerhouse” entity which will promote all facets of the community (business and retail development, business and retail advocacy, industrial development, education, work force training and tourism) for the combined purposes of representing businesses, promoting the community and creating new jobs
· Quality of Place/Quality of Life – adopt new practices which will eliminate visual clutter and improve streetscapes, develop new retail opportunities to mirror those commonly found in larger urban areas, develop a community YMCA, change existing alcoholic beverage laws to achieve full “wet” status for the community’s urban areas, and, develop new retail, entertainment and residential opportunities to mirror those commonly found in larger urban areas
· Health Care – obtain Trauma Center certification at Hardin Memorial Hospital
These are far reaching goals which if implemented with care will have a profound and positive impact on Hardin County for decades to come. These goals will undoubtedly lead to other, yet to be identified goals which will further strengthen the County, improve the quality of life and make the community more competitive going forward.
How can all of this be achieved? It all starts with your acceptance of our invitation to join us Thursday at the community forum at The PAC. Hardin County has been blessed with strong leaders since its inception. People like you who can make a difference. So, come out to the PAC, hear the presentation, engage in the dialogue and work with your fellow citizens to make a difference and build an even stronger Hardin County for the future!
Luke B. Schmidt is president ofL.B. Schmidt & Associates LLC, a Louisville-based consulting firm which specializes in strategic planning, organizational development, public affairs, economic development and marketing/communications projects.