Focus Area – Planning, Leadership, and Infrastructure Development

This section addresses the following items identified in the SWOT analysis:

Vision Statement

The goals of economic development cannot be segregated from community development objectives. To support economic development and to provide employment, wage, and private investment opportunities, the district must consider its community development agenda.

Regional and local partners must promote leadership, planning/zoning, housing initiatives, transportation, and other infrastructure developments that are conducive to stable growing economies that are more resilient to disruption.


1. Hire a certified planner to work with cities/towns and counties.

2. Establish county planning and zoning in all eight counties within 10 years.

3. Complete comprehensive plans, or updates to plans, for 10 cities/towns in the next 7 years.

4. Complete comprehensive regional transportation plan by 12/2023

5. Assist in the development, implementation, and completion of infrastructure projects throughout the region.

6. Explore housing development opportunities to remove dilapidated structures, improve existing housing, and increase affordable housing.

7. Recruit partners for a regional, multi-county, leadership academy.

Implementation Activities

1. Discuss comprehensive planning for all counties and 10-15 cities/towns.

2. Utilizing current SWODA programs; Planning/Zoning, Hazard Mitigation, Transportation Planning (SORTPO), Community Development, CIP, EDD Planning, Community Economic Strategic Plans, and housing construction to continue to improve community planning and infrastructure.

3. Use EDA CARES funding to hire grant writing specialist and economic recovery planner.

4. Explore a regional housing demolition contract bidding process. Develop bidding process, identify properties, complete an RFP, and request bids by the end of 2022.

5. SWODA housing program to construct 20 moderately priced homes in the next 5-years.

6. Apply for a regional freight study to utilize region’s location and infrastructure strengths.

7. Complete multi-jurisdictional hazard mitigation plan updates for counties. Assist jurisdictions within the plans on large scale hazard mitigation opportunities.

8. Reach out to financial institutions, schools, government agencies, major employers, civic groups, and others to discuss the regional leadership academy.

Outcome Measures

The measurement of the above listed goals and activities is easily determinable where there is a numerical or yes/no completion. On a broader scale, implementing better planning processes will assist the decision makers in the region to evaluate the best use of finite resources.