The Bristol Chamber of Commerce and the Bristol2040 Steering Committee, together with partners in government, education, healthcare and business have embarked upon a long-term strategic community and economic development planning process in order to create a shared vision for Bristol’s future growth and an action and implementation plan to achieve it. Bristol2040 has hired Market Street Services, Inc., a community and economic development consulting firm based in Atlanta, Georgia to assist and facilitate the creation of the Economic Blueprint for Bristol.
“A group of public, private, and non-profit leaders have come together to launch a comprehensive effort to place Bristol on a sustainable path to growth and prosperity, and today we celebrate the kickoff of the public input portion of Bristol2040”, stated Beth Rhinehart, President & CEO of the Bristol Chamber of Commerce and Bristol2040 Tri-Chair. Initial funding for the Visioning Plan and Economic Strategy is being provided by a grant received from the USDA Rural Business Development Fund, along with business and community stakeholder investments.
The initiative kicks off this week with a series of focus groups and individual interviews with over 80 local business, government, education and civic leaders. Results of those interviews, and others will be combined with key demographic and market data, competitive assessment findings, a target business analysis and a best practice community review and analysis to develop an economic development strategy for the region. Businesses and residents throughout the greater Bristol region will have an opportunity to provide feedback about the issues and opportunities facing the region and present their vision. All are encouraged to take an online survey that can be accessed through a link on the Bristol2040 website at www.Bristol2040.com. The link to the survey is found at the top of the main page. “The challenges that face our economy and community today are as complex and diverse as at any time in our history. By working together, we can develop a shared vision and direction that will lead us to a strong and successful economic future,” stated Jim Maxwell, Regional Publisher of the Bristol Herald Courier and Bristol2040 Tri-Chair. “This process will identify strategies that allow us to leverage the collective assets of the entire region. For us to compete effectively, we have to think and act as one region,” Bristol2040 TriChair and General Manager of Bristol Motor Speedway Jerry Caldwell added, “Working together we can accomplish more than any one of us can individually.” Rhinehart, Maxwell and Caldwell are members of a diverse steering committee of regional constituents that will guide the development of the Economic Blueprint.
Throughout the eight-month strategic process, Bristol and its regional partners will be presented with: – A clear view of the region’s strengths, weaknesses, and competitive standing – An inclusive process that involves all segments of the community – Specific opportunities leading to sound, balanced development – A comprehensive view of a healthy future that embraces the economic, social, educational, and cultural life of the area – Identification of vulnerabilities and how to deal with them – A long-term perspective that avoids quick-fix approaches, and – A framework for measuring progress.
Market Street’s CEO, Mac Holladay noted that, “Virtually every community across the country is facing a changing economic structure. However, it’s important to remember that today’s uncertainty should not prevent local economic developers from planning for the future. Bristol and its regional partners are competing against regions that have been implementing strategic programs for many years. The timing of this process is essential for Bristol to build its capacity to move its economy forward.”
The Bristol Chamber of Commerce is providing ongoing services to the planning effort including serving as the support organization of the steering committee. “We are glad that we have this opportunity to take a leadership role in this project, but it will be important to build a local steering committee for this effort that includes leaders from all segments of our economy,” Beth Rhinehart said.
For more information and to take the online survey, visit Bristol2040.com.