Outgoing JCDC executive director Bill Bradley presented the plan to his board Tuesday during the regular meeting that followed the group’s annual meeting.
The strategic plan, developed after hearing from guest speakers, gathering survey data and holding focus groups, laid out four main goals, with more specific objectives and strategies for each. Those goals are:
•Build a diversified community and economic development blueprint for Jay County.
•Expand and strengthen the workforce pipeline in Jay County by 2022.
•Improve the physical infrastructure of Jay County.
•Increase the quality and diversity of housing in Jay County.
After reviewing the preliminary plan, several board members noted the need to prioritze goals. Bradley, who is leaving his position after 11 years for a similar job in LaGrange County, agreed with that assessment.
“The key with this is to realize this is a five-year plan,” said Bradley. “The danger is you want to do evreything at one time, and you can’t. I think the board is probably going to have to sit down and prioritze each of these goals ...”
The board also heard a pair of empassioned pleas from member Bob Lyons.
He first called for JCDC and the community as a whole to do more to welcome and include its Hispanic population. “Hispanic or Latino” is the largest minority group in the county at about 3 percent of the population. That number is higher — almost 8 percent — in Portland.
“These are our new people,” said Lyons, a Pike Township farmer and former teacher. “These are real people. They have feelings. They have family. And this is an untapped resource. ... We need to embrace them.”
He also advocated for the proposed Bitter Ridge Wind Farm, challenging his fellow JCDC board members to sign a petition in favor of the project. He touted the economic benefits of the project and disputed assertions of opponents regarding property value and health issues.