Greene County has released the tiger from its cage. Yes, the beautifully bucolic rolling hills of Pennsylvania’s southwestern corner are rumbling with energy. Her residents, always friendly and welcoming, are persistent and acutely determined. The County officially launched its aggressive 10-year plan last week when the Commissioners opened their comprehensive plan to the public for review and comment. The energy within the County’s residents exceeds even the abundant energy contained within her beautiful rolling hills. 

“If You Fail to Plan, You Are Planning to Fail.”

This is one of my favorite quotes. It has been attributed in various forms to numerous people throughout history from Ben Franklin to Winston Churchill to Coach John Wooden. It’s a favorite because it is spot on. In business and in life you must have a plan. But those legendary leaders lived in a different time. In today’s fast paced, social media driven world, planning is often taken lightly or overlooked altogether. But planning is so important to success in any endeavor. How can something so important be so innocuous?

It’s Not always Glamorous

Planning is not glamorous. It’s not immediate. It doesn’t receive front-page, above-the-fold, headlines. But if you want to build something great you must start with a solid foundation. Greene County, the cornerstone of the foundation of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, has undertaken the process of comprehensively planning for the county’s future. This Plan was being developed not because the calendar turned on the cycle of the PA Municipalities Planning Code signaling time to update, but rather to proactively embrace the life-changing opportunities on the horizon. 

What is a comprehensive plan? First and foremost, a comprehensive plan is a 10-year, community-based vision for the county’s growth, and must be developed through a public engagement process. This process involves a diverse group of citizens and stakeholders focused on articulating community values and preferences for growth and development.  The plan consists of priority goals and recommended implementation strategies. 

The Six Pillars of Greene County

From its long history of farmers, miners and millwrights, building is second nature in Greene County. The foundation of the County Plan was laid out on six powerful pillars, all equally important to the community. From Mobility and Transportation to Workforce and Education, Business and Industry, Quality of Life, Grow and Protect Assets, and finally Local Government, this foundation is designed to weather any storm. These foundational pillars represent the critical components of the plan that will guide the future growth of the community. 

We can debate about whether the focus of economic development should be on people or on places. That is, should we make investments in people, hoping to see them succeed regardless of where they end up? Or should we focus on investments in certain boroughs and townships in order to bring jobs and growth, thus helping the people who live there? A community is a place that is tightly bound to its geographic boundaries, it cannot grow or expand. People can move. They can choose to relocate to another county or state. When you place emphasis on people, invest in their future, you incentivize them to invest, plant their seeds in the community, grow and contribute to the overall harvest. 

A Wholistic Approach

The Greene County Plan takes a holistic approach to economic development, placing emphasis on the county as a community, thus focusing on the people and the place. After all, that is a community and the process of developing an economy is at its core, about community. The people who developed this Plan, the Advisory Committee, are a true community. They come from diverse backgrounds, from all corners of the County, to work toward a common goal. 

Seventy-five years ago, General Dwight D. Eisenhower said of the Normandy Invasion, “This operation is not being planned with any alternatives. This operation is planned as a victory, and that’s the way it’s going to be. We’re going down there, and we’re throwing everything we have into it, and we’re going to make it a success.” Think about what was hanging in the balance that day 75 years ago, only the fate of the free world. But the leader, the one man ultimately responsible for the outcome speaks with focus and certainty. No maybes, no doubts, no what ifs, just the will to succeed. 

A Vision For The Community

That is what I saw in the eyes of the Advisory Committee, focus and certainty. What I did not see were maybes, doubts, and what ifs. The Greene County community has clearly and confidently created a vision for their community that will illuminate the path forward, not to guide them for the next ten years, but to guide the next generation and the next one after that. 

The plan is now a living document with a name: Live Greene, Work Greene, Love Greene. It has a bold vision, “Greene County will enhance its competitive economic position in the region by building upon its strengths, unparalleled natural resources, a rich industrial and agricultural heritage, small-town charm and family values.” To build anything new takes focused planning, bold decision making, and certainty of execution. This tiger is sprinting fearlessly, focused, bold and certain of its path. 

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