City holds strategic planning workshop

Published 5:12 pm Monday, April 29, 2024

A group of about 75 interested citizens came out on Thursday evening for the City of Middlesboro’s strategic planning workshop at the newly renovated Community Center on 30th Street.

“I was really enthused about everybody who came out. It shows the community wants to have a voice and a say in where we’re going and that’s a very good thing to have,” Mayor Boone Bowling said. “I was very pleased with the way everybody turned out and engaged.”

The workshop was facilitated by Tad Long, the Community & Economic Development Manager for the Kentucky League of Cities (KLC).

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“We’re here tonight to talk about your town,” he said. “This is always an exciting exercise to have folks come in and gather around the table and have a little conservation. You share the things you have in common and the things you’d like to see accomplished.”

Long had the entire group brainstorm around a series of questions such as: What do you love the most about Middlesboro? What are Middlesboro’s biggest strengths? What are Middlesboro’s biggest challenges?

All of those answers were recorded and will be used as raw data to distill what the city’s identity should be and what the priorities should be in putting together a community and economic development plan to best suit the community’s needs and wants.

The group also had a chance to design what their vision of Middlesboro could look like. At each table there was a map of the city and KLC supplied cards with things like housing development, a welcome sign, local small businesses, green spaces and other elements that could have a place in the city. Each small group was able to plot where on the map those things could possibly be.

Long said as the data is compiled the KLC will start to put together a rough draft of a strategic plan for Middlesboro based on information from Thursday’s workshop. There will be another town hall meeting to present that preliminary plan and gather more feedback from the community about changes that may need to be made in that plan.

“We do that at about the halfway point, because if we’ve missed something or we’re on the wrong track, we want to get it fixed before we get to the final version,” he said.

That meeting will likely take place in the fall.

“Thank you all for participating and sharing all of your ideas,” Long said in wrapping up the workshop. “I thought that was a great work session and we got a lot of stuff done.”

He encouraged all in attendance to think about the ideas that they shared and to reach out to Mayor Bowling and members of the City Council if they came up with new ideas after the meeting.

Bowling said the next step will be putting together a comprehensive plan for the city to move forward with.

“What will happen next is we will put together an actual comprehensive plan. We can all say here are our priorities as a city and we can all move forward together,” he said.