from Executive Director Mary Shell
In 2020, ACE received a grant from USDA-Rural Development to assist 10 of our existing communities with updates to their strategic plans. We selected a variety of our communities designated in different years and located across the state to participate. The grant funds allowed us to contract with Dr. Joe Sumners, who recently retired as director of Auburn University’s Government and Economic Development Institute (GEDI). As a founding member of ACE and longtime ACE Board member, Joe knows the program well and worked with most of these communities during his time at GEDI.
Joe and I have met with each town’s mayor and local coordinator to describe the ACE program and strategic planning process. We are using online surveys to gather input from a stakeholder list provided by each mayor. Joe will analyze the results to develop draft strategic plans for each town. We will hold in-person meetings in the late spring to review the draft plan and refine the vision, goals, and initiatives. Each plan will include actions a town needs to make to move toward its goals with a timeline and names of people or organizations responsible for implementation.
- Stakeholders in Alexander City, Arab, Eufaula, Fayette, and Monroeville have received Survey 1. After Joe analyzes the results of Survey 1, he will send a customized Survey 2 to each town.
- We plan to send Survey 1 to stakeholders in Childersburg, Demopolis, Evergreen, Guin, and Headland by mid-February.
- We have asked USDA-RD, regional planning commissions, and community college contacts who service these communities to participate and be a resource for assistance with implementation.
- After Joe receives the results from Survey 2, he will develop draft strategic plans for the stakeholders to review. We plan to have in-person meetings to discuss and refine each draft as a group.
- We also are focusing on each community’s page on the ACE website to update information and images and ensure each has a list of top attractions.