CRESTLINE — Officials with the Crawford Partnership unveiled the Crawford: 2030 Vision plan during the organization’s state of the vision meeting on Thursday night.
Todd Boyer, president of the Crawford Partnership board of directors, said since its inception the Partnership has evolved from a volunteer-driven organization to a staff-driven agency with a “passionate, professional, and dedicated staff working to improve the business climate and community life of Crawford County.”
Boyer praised the local investors that support the organization. He said the investors provide both the vision and finances necessary to keep the Partnership going.
“We currently have more than 40 active investors — individuals and organizations who invest anywhere from $500 to $100,000 to support the greater good that is done through the Partnership,” Boyer said. “From the founding days of this organization, it has been citizens and businesses, and more recently local government officials who have believed in the vision of a better Crawford, and have put their money where their vision is. This community owes our selfless investors a tremendous debt of gratitude and appreciation.”
Boyer noted that he was part of the group in 2010 that helped facilitate the creation of the Crawford: 2020 Vision plan, which he said was the blueprint for the Partnership and local development in Crawford County.
“At that time, we had an entirely different set of community needs and priorities, an entirely different staff, an entirely different board of directors, and lots of hope that a coordinated effort could move Crawford County forward,” Boyer said. “It’s been a wonderful journey to observe from my unique perspective, to see all of the effort and passion and selfless commitment that has created lasting, positive change for this community. Now, a decade later, we can celebrate a number of accomplishments, and can focus our eyes on the next horizon, 2030, where a bold vision for this community is now perched.”
Crawford: 2030 Vision plan
Gary Frankhouse, the Partnership’s executive and economic development director, and Erin Stine, the agency’s community development director and CU Lead facilitator, jointly explained the 2030 Vision plan to the large group that gathered at The Hub at Village Square in Crestline.
Stine said Crawford Partnership collaborated with Cleveland-based New Growth Group to develop the Crawford: 2030 Vision plan. She said the Partnership also worked with New Growth Group on the Crawford 2020 plan. She noted that the Partnership staff, board members, and local stakeholders all contributed to the process.
In the process of developing the 2030 Vision plan, Frankhouse said the Partnership also reached out to individuals, organizations, and businesses all across the county for feedback about the 2020 plan. He noted that the process benefited from both negative and positive feedback about the previous plan.
Crawford: 2030 Vision features three “pillars:” economic development, community development, and workforce development. Each category has a listing of community-level indicators specific to that category as well as strategies and goals geared to the particular category.
According to its community-level indicator, “Economic development will determine positive impact from the goals and strategies based on a growth in sales tax, gross regional product, and income tax in Bucyrus, Crestline, Galion, and New Washington.”
Strategies to promote economic development include strengthening existing businesses, attracting new businesses, improving local infrastructure, and enhancing government services for businesses.
Following are the stated goals under the economic development pillar: expand access to resources, promote sites and buildings, increase the number of shovel-ready sites and buildings, and collaborate to bridge the gaps between business and government.
The focus of the community development pillar is “to slow and reverse population decline” in Crawford County. According to the 2020 Census results, Crawford County experienced a 4% decrease in population from 2010 to 2020, losing a total of 1,759 residents.
Strategies to help slow and reverse population loss include promoting health and wellness throughout the community, expanding housing options, continuing leadership development programs and the Partnership’s CU Lead initiative, and supporting downtown revitalization efforts in local communities.
Following are the stated goals under the community development pillar: increase community spaces for recreation, expand availability of housing, grow community leaders, and support revitalization efforts via tourism resources.
The focus of the workforce development pillar is “to increase the average median household income” in Crawford County. According to statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau, the median household income in Crawford County is $44,971, which is the lowest in the five-county region that includes Ashland, Marion, Richland, and Wyandot counties.
Strategies that will be employed to help increase household income include supporting talent attraction and retention, improving education and training options, building career pathways for local residents, and utilizing the CommunityOpportunity.com website to connect local businesses with local talent as well as promote Crawford County to the surrounding region.
Goals to promote workforce development include include amplifying awareness of the median hourly wage, collaborate with post-secondary educational entities, and offer enhanced opportunities for students and underemployed residents to connect to careers and pathways to employment.
For more information about the Crawford Partnership and the Crawford: 2030 Vision plan, go to its website www.crawfordpartnership.org. Follow Crawford Partnership on Facebook and LinkedIn.