How We Got Here . . .
For much of the 19th century and well into the 20th century Wayne County experienced a robust economy supported by a solid manufacturing and rail infrastructure. However, this began to change in the latter half of the 20th century as the local economy started shifting to one based on retail trade, recreational accommodations and service jobs.
The shrinking pool of family sustaining jobs started to cause a shift in demographics as more and more families with young children sought better economic opportunities elsewhere.
This trend has gradually led to a population mix of aging long-term residents, many of whom tend to be economically challenged, and their retired neighbors, who spent their working years in more affluent communities. At the same time, dairy farm profits began to fall and family farms began to shut down.
In 2010, Wayne County completed a 10-year update of its Comprehensive Plan, and the Board of Commissioners wanted to make sure that the groundwork laid out in the various elements of the plan became the foundation for a bold, new future.
In 2013, Wayne County recognized that these evolving trends were leading to challenges from an economic, cultural and educational perspective. This realization led to the creation of Wayne Tomorrow!, a county-commissioner and community-supported planning initiative aimed at providing a collective effort to support a prosperous community.
Called Wayne Tomorrow! The mission has been to establish an inclusive process for creating a shared vision that will enhance the community and help guide development of Wayne County. To insure diversity, the commissioners sought out people of varying backgrounds, professions and political outlooks from different industrial and economic sectors, assembling a group of volunteers who might only rarely have found themselves seated around the same table.
Five Key Elements
This varied group identified five key elements to focus on both as individual components, but also as interrelated and connected topics, and they formed Work Groups to look more closely at:
Business and Economic Development
Human Resources and Education
Quality of Life
Establish Working Groups
Each of these Work Groups was asked to conduct a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) Analysis, and from those efforts a set of themes emerged, showing up on each list in some fashion or another:
Broadband Internet Access and Communication
Career and Technical Center
Health and Wellness
Marketing and Branding; Natural Assets
Short & Long Term Projects
Over a period of several years, these dedicated working groups identified and prioritized a number of short- and long-term projects that are covered in some depth in Wayne Tomorrow's Strategic Plan. The Strategic Plan represents a coordinated and phased development plan, which supports a dynamic and evolving economic and cultural ecosystem seen as the foundation for future community and business growth.