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Fredericksburg City Council, EDA “Forge Shared Path and Vision”

By Susan Larson. Photo copyright Susan Larson for Fredericksburg.Today

Fredericksburg City Council and Economic Development Authority members plan to meet quarterly during 2017 to “forge a shared path and vision.”

The two groups met in November to begin collaboration. “The whole point of tonight and going forward is to find out where the lines intersect, and to work toward coordination, consensus, and shared vision that crosses all of our paths,” said Mayor Mary Katherine Greenlaw.

Greenlaw began the meeting with an overview of City Council’s working draft of the vision developed during their two-day retreat in October. “We were brainstorming ahead to the year 2036; what we would keep and what we would change,” she said. The “desired future states” of Fredericksburg were outlined by eight headings:

1- Employment epicenter
2- Building community through cultural vibrancy
3- Learning is a way of life
4- Distinct and linked neighborhoods
5- Cutting edge transportation solutions
6- A proven leader in historic preservation
7- Green, clean environment
8- Public services (the backbone of any community)

EDA Chairperson Amy LaMarca shared the EDA’s preliminary strategic vision. “This is our attempt to identify priorities, and see what is actionable and what we can afford,” LaMarca said. “We hope in this first meeting to share a lot of information, with the hope that this is the first of many conversations we will have.”

At times, tensions rose between the two groups.

“There are some great ideas in here, but how do we prioritize them, and how do we pay for them,” said At-Large City Councilman Matt Kelly.

“I don’t think the city has made economic development a priority,” said EDA Board Secretary Michael Colangelo. “We don’t expect you to have the same bull’s eye on economic development as we do, but that’s what we want to work with you on,” he said.

“We have to figure out the commonalties we have,” said At-Large City Council Member Kerry Devine. “Let’s see where our overlap is. Neither of us have prioritized our goals. We have to work together, or we’re not going to get there.”

EDA Board Member Joe Wilson asked everyone their opinion of the city’s greatest economic development asset. Tourism was named, but some disagreed.

“My point is our need to identify this, and how we continue to nurture it,” he said. He also said it was important to determine what economic development assets might be in the future.

“We need to identify what the new market requires, and prepare the resources to meet those industry needs,” Colangelo added.

City Manager Tim Baroody told those gathered they’d turned a corner. “There’s been a very robust dialogue,” he said.

Baroody and Bill Freehling, director of Economic Development and Tourism, showed a beginning draft of a consensus plan of action for economic development.

He and Freehling will take various plans — including City Council’s Strategic Vision and the EDA’s preliminary plan — and organize them into one document, from which the groups can jointly determine priorities. “We can work with you through a process that would push these pieces together,” Baroody said.

Projects will be coded green for “pursue immediately”; yellow for “work on”; and red “don’t need to move forward at this time.” “This spread sheet is a living document that we will continue to update,” Baroody said.

“We have a lot of work to do, and it’s exciting that we’re doing it together,” LaMarca said.

The 2017 quarterly meetings will be held at 7 p.m. on Tuesdays February 21, May 16, August 15, and November 21. Meetings will be held at City Hall, 715 Princess Anne St., in the large conference room, room 214.
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Fredericksburg City Council and EDA to Host Joint Work Session

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