Future Forward Seeks Ideas
Regional economic leaders want your ideas on a plan designed to improve local economies. The Future Forward Leadership Committee will hold a community briefing from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m. Tuesday at the Lincoln Campus of Gaston College. The committee, made up of consultants and community members, has spent months analyzing data, conducting hundreds of interviews and developing focused strategies for improving local economic conditions. The briefing will be led by Barry Matherly, executive director of the Lincoln Economic Development Association and a member of the Future Forward Leadership Committee. “As a member of the Future Forward Committee, I have made a commitment to be a part of the region’s economic future and encourage citizens to get involved by attending this briefing,” Matherly said. “Those in attendance will have an opportunity to shape the future of the region. The briefing is a chance for residents to have a say in how leaders should proceed on the initiative, said Ken Poole, CEO of the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness in Arlington, VA and lead consultant for the Future Forward project. “This is a prime opportunity for residents across the region to comment on the proposed action plan for renewing our area’s prosperity,” Poole said. “This is a plan designed to impact and improve their economic future – their feedback can only strengthen the work we have done up to this point.” In addition to the session here, community briefings will be held I five additional counties to gather feedback from all parts of the Future Forward project region, which includes Alexander, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, Iredell, Rutherford, Avery, Mitchell, Watauga, Wilkes and McDowell counties. The Future Forward project is made possible by a $320,000 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration and an $80,000 commitment from a N.C. Community Development Block Grants. Along with professional consultants and staff from Hickory’s Western Piedmont Council of Governments, the team includes a 21-member leadership committee composed of residents from each county included in the study. The committee was appointed by U.S. Rep. Cass Ballenger, who played a key role in obtaining federal funding for the project.