Thrive 2055 seeks public input on growth goals
by JOYANNA LOVE Banner Senior Staff Writer
Jun 24, 2014 | 848 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Thrive 2055 will receive input from the public during a meeting at Cleveland State Community College’s George R. Johnson Cultural Center on July 8.

Thrive 2055 is a multicounty project whose goal is to use community input to develop plans and suggestions for the region’s future growth.

“The benefit and the importance to the local community are we are part of a larger region, and the things that happen in this region impact us. We would like to have input from citizens for the direction the group is trying to go to,” said Gary Farlow, president of the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce.

Maggie Neff, communications and outreach coordinator for Thrive 2055, said the meeting will start at 6 p.m. with a presentation about the group and its work. Then, the meeting will be an open-forum style allowing people to drop by and look at the materials until 8 p.m.

“There will be a presentation on what the possible futures are, and there will be polling on what aspects of these they like,” Neff said.

Display boards giving more information will also be set up for viewing. Those attending will be able to give written input on each of the potential outcomes presented.

Books giving information on how these potential outcomes affect areas such as natural treasures or business will also be available. To collect opinions about the information, surveys are included in the back of each book. This information is also available online.

The opinions gathered through the input incubators and the online surveys will be compiled in a report. How the report will be published is yet to be determined.

Similar meetings have been held around the state at the organization’s second round of incubator input gatherings.

Information collected during last year’s session is available to the public at the Cleveland Bradley County Public Library.

“The point of the possible futures is to give people an illustration so they can visualize what some of the themes, what each of them look like. We are not asking people nor are we picking a possible future as a plan for us,” Neff said.

Four themes are woven throughout each potential future. These are housing, transportation infrastructure, jobs/economic development and natural treasures.

“A lot of people seem to think we are heading toward some sort of mega-regional government. That is not at all what we are trying to do. It is really more of a grassroots kind of effort,” to gather community input, Farlow said.

Farlow said Thrive can develop plans and suggestions, yet the group does not have the authority to implement those plans. The plan focuses on various factors that affect the region.

“A lot of it is just sharing ideas between different communities. We have 16 counties from three different states that are doing this, so having the ability to get people together periodically and talk about what is working in your area … it’s a great way to get ideas,” Farlow said.

Part of the economic development involves looking at colleges in the region and how they are preparing people for the workforce.

Positive growth and preservation of what people want to keep are considerations for the group. Subgroups meet to discuss specific elements.

Next year is the last year for the Thrive grant. During the final year, those involved will look at ways to present the plans to those who can implement them.

“Not everything that needs to be done is necessarily a governmental thing. There is a lot of private sector initiative that can take place,” Farlow said.

More information about the Thrive 2055 initiative can be found at www.