L'ANSE - The Western Upper Peninsula Planning & Development Region laid the foundations for a Baraga County strategic plan Thursday night, but the organization needs community involvement to make the grant-funded plan successful.
WUPPDR representatives gave an overview of the plan, distributed a survey - which is also available online at gobaragacounty.com - and discussed plans for brainstorming sessions before a crowd at the L'Anse Junior/Senior High School.
"I see a lot of plans that sit on shelves; I see plans with 27 ideas in them. If we come out of here with one or two great plans that are reasonably implementable, that's our goal," said Karyn Olsson, strategic planner from The Marketing Department, which is working with WUPPDR.
Karyn Olsson, strategic planner from The Marketing Department, presents an overview of the Western Upper Peninsula Planning & Development Region’s new strategic plan for Baraga County Thursday night at the L’Anse Junior/Senior High School Cafetorium.
"The thing we really need support with right now is spreading the word. We need to understand the perceptions and opinions of the people who live here," she said.
The plan, which is funded through an Economic Development Association grant and is expected to take nine months to prepare and three years to implement, is broken down into three parts: researching (collecting surveys and holding brainstorming sessions to acquire a community profile and assess community assets), developing smart strategies (identifying economic development opportunities and create a brand for Baraga County) and creating a work plan (delivering measurables for core strategies and assigning people, money, resources and actions).
"You want to answer the question, 'Why Baraga County?' ... I want to dig deep and find out what is special about Baraga County," Olsson said. "One of the most powerful things you can do is go out and encourage other people to take that survey."
People who take the survey at gobaragacounty.com - paper copies can also be picked up at the Baraga County Administration Building in downtown L'Anse - will be entered into a drawing for one of four $50 gift cards, to Pat's IGA, Larry's Market, Indian County Sports or The Pines Convenience Center.
"We need to communicate to everyone in the community that this is your opportunity to have a say in tomorrow," said Mark Massicotte, Baraga County Chamber of Commerce president and a member of the Java Group.
The Java Group is comprised of more than a dozen community leaders who have been meeting (at Java by the Bay in downtown L'Anse), and it will continue to meet as the plan proceeds. But the group needs survey responses to work with.
"We need to rely on everyone to come together and get this data in," Massicotte said. "The better the data is represented, the better the outcome will be."
Brainstorming sessions will also be held. To get involved in one, contact WUPPDR Planner Jerald Wuorenmaa, who is the go-to person for the project, at 906-482-7205 extension 319 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Kim Stoker, executive director at WUPPDR, was also at Thursday's meeting and described some of the other Baraga County projects the organization has been involved with. For this project, WUPPDR is particularly dependent on community involvement.
"If we go with a plan that has been driven by numbers, metrics and research, I'll feel a whole lot more confident that whatever that strategy is to create jobs is the right one," Olsson said.