Florala looks at strategic plan

Published 12:11 am Thursday, December 18, 2008

“Nothing can be accomplished without a plan” — or so Florala’s government, community and industry leaders agreed Tuesday as they met to discuss a strategic plan for the city.

Mayor Robert Williamson said the steering committee, comprised of representatives from the economic development, education, banking, health care and private sectors, held their second meeting yesterday in what they hope will be a “map to progress” for the city.

Strategic planning is the formal consideration of an organization’s future course and is generally required information when seeking out new business ventures or grant monies.

“Everyone who attended is of the mindset if we don’t know where we want to go, we can’t start to get there,” Williamson said. “This is going to be a ‘game plan,’ if you will, to bring business to our city. Of course, the ultimate goal is revenue — to attract business — and of course, enhancing the quality of life of the citizens of Florala. But it all goes hand in hand.”

The group first met in November to “brainstorm” about the city’s strengths and weaknesses and ways to bring in revenue.

“Planning is great. We definitely need to plan,” he said. “But now, we need to get beyond the talking stage and get the ball rolling, because once it starts, we’re going to continue to see progress.

“To do that we have to capitalize on our assets — one of which is the (Lake Jackson), which is directly related to tourism,” he said. “Which means we need hotels, restaurants, which means we need infrastructure and roads. It’s a complex process that will not be accomplished overnight; however, we need a plan to tell us what we need to do to get us to our ultimate goal.”

Williamson said community partnerships are being explored to help the city produce its plan, as they are generally very expensive.

There is no specific timetable to complete the plan, but he hopes it will be “soon,” Williamson said.

Bonnie Brown, Florala Utilities’ public relations and economic development director, was the driving force in developing the idea for a plan.

Brown said it was often one of the first items potential businesses asked for when contacted about locating in Florala.

“It’s so important that everyone — from the citizens in Florala to potential businesses — to know where we are, where we want to go and how we plan to get there,” Brown said. “That’s what a strategic plan does.”